The Freundel Stuart administration has put a strategic plan in place to increase retail activity at Grantley Adams International Airport and help the businesses become more sustainable.
In making the disclosure to Barbados TODAY, Minister of Tourism and International Transport Richard Sealy admitted that the “unrealistic” rent had been a major reason for a number of the stores closing down in recent years.
Of concern to airport authorities is the large number of commercial spaces abandoned by operators whose businesses were no longer viable.
“We have hired a commercial manager [Rovel Morris] only recently and his mandate is to deal with that situation. Further to that, I have been in discussion with the [GAIA] chairman, [and we are] prepared to entertain some new models in embarking with those relationships with people desirous of having business at the airport,” Sealy revealed.
The minister is of the view that the high rents would also have to be reviewed as part of the strategy to lure prospective retailers back to the airport.
“It is pointless to have a scenario where, you know, to have rents that are unrealistic or just simply too high. It doesn’t make sense, because all that will be happening is that you will find yourself in all sorts of legal entanglements trying to collect arrears from people or threatening to evict people, or both. You would simply have empty spaces because nobody would come and take up the space,” he added.
Sealy stressed that with the new commercial manager focusing on addressing all of these issues, he hoped whatever revamped arrangements are put in place, they would result in “some more vibrancy in that side of things, particularly retail and the whole element of duty free experience”.
The Minister of Tourism and International Transport said Government had a duty to ensure that as a hub with plenty of transit business and air to sea transfers, travellers must have the right experience.
Asked if there would be a lowering of the rent, Sealy said the entire system would be revamped.
“We are looking at the overall situation. There are different formulas that they use and all that has to be reviewed because it is not working as well as it should,” he pointed out.
Thirty-four concessions, including car rentals, food and beverage stores, convenience and fashion and jewellery stores are advertised as businesses operating at the airport. About half a dozen are believed to have pulled out.