A top official of the international hotel chain Sandals has warned that the ongoing sewage crisis on the South Coast is simply not good for business.
General Manager Fernand Zievinger said although the luxury property in Dover, Christ Church, has not been directly affected by the awful stench which has resulted from a run off of effluent in other sections of the country’s tourist belt, Sandals was eager to have the problem go away.
“We received quite a few questions regarding that from our travel partners of course asking, ‘hey, is it affecting Sandals Barbados?’ It didn’t, but of course for our business partners, for the business community and also for the [Worthing] community it is also concerning because it is not good to
have that in the streets of course or the beaches.”
Asked how he felt the authorities should have dealt with the situation, Zievinger said that as a member of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA), Sandals was in full agreement with the comments made by chairperson of the BHTA Roseanne Myers, who recently cried shame on local authorities for running away from “vexing issues” facing the country instead of simply “taking them by the horn” and strategically correcting them while effectively communicating with the public.
Delivering her final report for the year at the BHTA’s fourth quarterly meeting at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre last week, Myers was equally adamant that the time had long gone for pointing fingers, and the relevant officials and agencies needed to accept full responsibility “and do something about it”.
“Things usually get worse unless you interject and intervene with some positive and strategic responses,” Myers warned.
“Our biggest challenge though seems to be one of communication as an underlying constant. Agencies are not communicating effectively to solve issues and we are not communicating with our various publics when problems occur, but tend to want to ignore and deny before addressing the concerns frontally,” she said.
“We had issues with drainage and backed up systems that affected the sewerage system, which was already stressed. Rather than acknowledge and take control of the messaging we allowed the general public to tell their stories on social media in an uncontrolled way with little leadership that was required to investigate, address, apologize, warn and manage the possible resolution. And we waited until the damage was done to our good name, then to try to respond. We have to do better and I surely believe that we can do better,” Myers added.
Sewage crisis apart, Zievinger said Sandals remained committed to Barbados.
And in response to recent criticisms of the duty and tax free status granted to Sandals for 40 years by Government, the general manager, who spoke to Barbados TODAY on the sidelines of today’s Sandals Barbados Annual Christmas Toy Drive at Vauxhall Primary School, said: “There is no investor in the world that would invest millions of dollars if there is no return on investment,” adding that “Barbados will be very, very proud by next year the end of November when Sandals Barbados Phase 2 opens up.
“It will put not only Barbados, but also continue to put our resorts on the map in terms of what we present to customers,” he said of the ongoing US$180 million expansion, which will add another 222 rooms to the existing
Zievinger said the project, which kicked off in the middle of this year, was currently running on schedule.
He also reported that the current winter season was off to a “very strong” start for Sandals.
“We are running for the month of December somewhere between 82 to 87 [per cent occupancy] and then towards mid first week of January, that is where high season really kicks in, so you will see 98 per cent occupancy going straight through high season,” he said.