One of the island’s top tourism officials is pleading with Barbadians to put their political differences aside and focus on solutions to the economic challenges facing the country.
What’s more, Chairperson of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Roseanne Myers is hinting to the Freundel Stuart administration that it must not be afraid to recognize the areas that it needs help and to “ask for it”.
“We have to recognize that we can put our hands up and make a contribution but at the end of the day the burden does not fall upon any one person. The solution is not based on any one person. In my humble opinion, the four or five [political] parties that we have, everybody needs to drop their political cloaks and put on a Barbados flag, wrap it around their heads and march forward, every single one of them,” she said to loud applause at the BHTA’s first quarterly general meeting for 2017 at the Barbados Hilton Resort earlier this week.
“So the BHTA will do our part, we will have to examine based on the information we have, what we can do, but we certainly will join in any effort to say ‘when you need help you got to ask for it’. You got to look to see where you can get the help that you need and ask for it. So a part of our whole thing is to ensure we are at the table, we are supporting, we are not saying we have all the answers by any means,” Myers said.
Her comments came on the heels of a recent announcement by Prime Minister Freundel Stuart that two working groups of the Social Partnership had been established – one to look at the fiscal challenges and the other to look at the foreign exchange reserves.
It also comes ahead of a planned Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) national “march of disgust” tomorrow, and at a time when a number of new political parties have been springing up to contest next year’s general election, with their founders expressing displeasure with the state of the economy.
Stressing that the private sector was eager to “bring our synergies to bear on whatever issues the country is having” in conjunction with the labour movement and Government, Myers was optimistic that progress would be made with the establishment of two working groups, which include representatives from the BHTA, the Barbados Private Sector Association, the labour movement and Government.
“The Social Partnership technically has been a talk shop. We are trying to move from a talk shop – a little bit late – to a structured working group where we can focus on not only what we say we are going to do, but what we are doing and where we are in implementation of whatever,” the BHTA chairperson said.
Myers said with the tourism industry being the driver of foreign exchange, she was eager to see an improvement to the current situation.
“It puts pressure on us to do the best that we can. So the questions we are asking today when we look at tourism competitiveness, are we doing the best that we can [and] have we looked at the trends and the strategies that are new and emerging that we need to engage with? So you have to look internally and ask those questions,” she said.