Local hoteliers and other tourism stakeholders are being given the assurance that their plea for an expansion of the list of items on which they receive concessions has not fallen on deaf ears.
Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy made it clear today that Government would extend the tax relief to items beyond alcohol and protein.
At the end of February this year, Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Sue Springer reported that the organization was working closely with the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) and the Ministry of Tourism to resolve delays in expanding the list of items.
She reported then that while most of the issues regarding alcohol had been sorted out, efforts to add protein to the list were “moving slowly”.
However, while addressing the groundbreaking ceremony for phase two of Sandals Barbados’ expansion project at Dover, Christ Church this morning, Sealy restated Government’s commitment to the hoteliers despite some “little bumps”..
“It has not been all smooth we know, and invariably we will get those little bumps along the way. It is a work in progress but there is no question where Government’s commitment remains,” Sealy told those gathered for the event.
“We of course are not finished because when we go beyond the alcohol and the protein – stakes and salmon and so on – that is supposed to be all inputs – and we are getting there – and then of course we want to go beyond hotels to other players in the sector as well, so they too can see their inputs free of all [taxes]. And then we can start to feel as if we have a sector that is truly internally competitive. That is important in terms of strengthening the core of the tourism sector.”
Sealy said he was pleased that hoteliers were investing in their product by upgrading and expanding, adding that Government was keen to provide the right climate to encourage such investments.
“When I made the statement in Parliament announcing the relationship between Government and Sandals it was made quite clear that there was a strategy for large investments but there was also a strategy for modest investments as well. And that saw the amendment of the Tourism Development Act,” Sealy recalled.
“So previous products, specifically alcohol and protein, that would attract rates of duty sometimes 50, 60 or 150 per cent in some cases, all of that was relieved in an effort to make the sector more internationally competitive that our local hoteliers will know they can invest and know they can get a rate of return, [and] knowing they can meet the finance commitments,” he explained.