Barbadian hoteliers continue to have difficulty accessing concessions promised by Government two years ago, according the newly appointed chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Roseanne Myers.
Myers, the general manager of Atlantis Submarines Barbados Inc, said a tedious application process and misinterpretation of the amended legislation were getting in the way of hoteliers who wanted to access the concessions.
Parliament approved the amendment to the Tourism Development Act in October 2014, paving the way for local hoteliers to import food, beverage and consumables duty-free.
Following demands by the hoteliers for the same concessions as those given to the popular chain Sandals, Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler had announced in August 2014 that “the concessions which Sandals got, all the others will get but they will get it permanently, in permanent legislation that they call on each and every time they require it rather than having to write the Minister of Finance every other time they’re doing upgrades to a property to get it”.
Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy had subsequently written to the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) in January last year advising that hotels could begin making application to import duty-free food and beverage items, beginning with alcohol, beverages and meats from the food and beverage listing.
While paying a courtesy call on Barbados TODAY this morning, Myers again argued that stakeholders of the industry needed concessions to survive.
She also said it was time to move beyond the legislation and make the concessions easily available.
“The legislation is there but we need to go perhaps a little further. We need to get at least what has been already [been] agreed. That is all we are saying. And it is better for the Barbadian population,” Myers said.
Myers applauded Sandals for successfully lobbying for concessions and opening the door for other tourism competitors to rush through and request the same from Government.
In fact, she suggested that the Sandals all-inclusive beach resort was a fabulous addition to the island’s tourism product.
“They are with us, they are a part of us, and they came and they set the precedent that says, ‘if you reduce the operator costs, you will attract more brands’.
“More brands are now here. All we need to do is ensure that we give our local indigenous hotelier, who has 64 years of blood, sweat, and tears in the industry, the same,” Myers insisted.
While concerns have been raised that concessions may disadvantage the local agricultural sector, Myers promised there was nothing to fear because a memorandum of understanding had been signed that protected local agricultural produce.
“There was a special place carved out for local produce and it is still there being protected,” she said.