INDEPENDENCE MESSAGE FROM THE BARBADOS HOTEL AND TOURISM ASSOCIATION
The Chairman, Directors, Members and Staff of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) extend greetings and Happy Independence to all Barbadians as we celebrate our 51st Anniversary of Independence.
The 2017 Hurricane Season, which officially ends on Independence Day, has been destructive and costly to the region. The BHTA is extremely proud that our members joined with Barbadians and visitors alike, to selflessly provide much needed relief to our heart-broken and devastated Caribbean neighbours in their time of serious need.
We were spared the wrath of the many weather systems that affected the region, but it was quite different for other tourism-dependent destinations like Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, Puerto Rico and the British and US Virgin Islands, among others. In the true caring nature of Barbadians, our members collaborated with the many organisations, individuals and companies, which urgently coordinated and continue to coordinate much needed relief efforts to those affected.
As we celebrate our 51st anniversary, we do so knowing that amid all the challenges, Barbados remains a beacon of hope for others. Our actions of relief to our neighbours communicate that we are still our brothers’ keeper while reflecting human kindness.
Daily, many hard-working and dedicated individuals and institutions in the tourism industry contribute in a meaningful way to the building of this country. We wish to salute our members and in particular their employees across the spectrum of the BHTA membership which includes hotels, villas, activities, attractions, airlines, restaurants, real estate agents, tour representatives, retailers, trade and consumer press, advertising and public relations agencies, technology providers, consultants, suppliers of goods and services, cruise and other services providers in this very important lifeline industry.
This year we celebrated our 65th Anniversary. In addition, we also celebrated the achievements of a number of our industry stalwarts, including our Life Time Achievement Awardee Jeff Kinch, the Association’s first Committee of Management and Executive Secretaries, the Board Member and Employee with the longest tenure and entertainers Richard Stoute and Dr. Anthony ‘Gabby Carter’, as well as young, aspiring local talent like Andre ‘DJ Puffy’ Parris and Chrystal Cummings Beckles.
After months of hard work, training and preparation, our culinary team made us exceedingly proud and gave us more to celebrate, when they dominated this year’s Taste of the Caribbean in Miami. They won a slew of top prizes, including the coveted Caribbean Team of the Year.
In 2017 the BHTA also launched new initiatives designed to attract more visitors to the island and, equally as important, to preserve our natural environment. These included the staging of our first Dive Fest Barbados in association with the Barbados Divers Operators Association (BDOA), the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) and the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) as well as the inaugural Art of Cuisine – Barbados Meets the World and our first Speed Networking Session for members.
Despite all the celebration of milestones and achievements, the BHTA still continued to lobby for our members and, for the first time in ten years, signed our current three-year Memorandum Agreement (MOA) with the Barbados Workers’ Union (BWU).
We also represented those issues affecting our members, including Value Added Tax returns, accessing waiver of taxes and duties under the Tourism Development Amendment Act (TDAA), the impact of the National Social Responsibility Levy, the impact of crime, beach harassment, cleanliness of the island, the arrivals and departure experience at the Grantley Adams International Airport and appropriate regulations for unregistered accommodation, among others.
Further, we continued our promotion of the island by strengthening strategic partnerships with agencies such as the BTMI, the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA), TDC, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) and other partners.
In addition, we revived two very important product clubs, namely Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Events (MICE) and Romance, while providing representation at various international trade shows and conferences, including IMEX America, World Travel Market (WTM), State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC), the CHTA’s Caribbean Travel Marketplace, and others.
We recommit to continue to work diligently with our partners to facilitate sustainable growth and development of the tourism industry to the benefit of our members, our country and the people of Barbados in general.
We also give the assurance to our members and to Barbadians that we will continue to function in a manner to ensure that the Barbadian talents, skills and resources are utilized in an efficient and effective manner to guarantee that future generations of Barbadians will also be filled with pride as they celebrate future Independence Days.
Happy 51st anniversary of Independence Barbados!
CEO -Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association