Reduced airlift out of England during a month-long shutdown is threatening to undo weeks of improved tourism numbers that followed consistent declines brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In fact, Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Rudy Grant is expecting a significant uptake of Government’s Barbados Economic and Sustainable Transformation (BEST) programme from droves of struggling hoteliers.
According to Grant, 28 BHTA member enterprises have already signed onto the programme that offers grants to fund the re-engagement of workers at a level of 80 per cent of their normal pay, along with investments in the transformation of their tourism plant. The BHTA official is expecting these numbers to increase under the current conditions, but expressed confidence in the ability of the private sector and government to navigate the trying times.
“My expectation is that the longer we have challenges in our major source markets, there will be an increasing number of tourism enterprises interested in exploring and applying for BEST. We are having further discussions with members on this programme and we will continue to have discussions with the government,” Grant reported.
“The members have outlined interest in the wage and salary support training, upgrading and renovation of properties, retooling and looking at energy efficient systems, smart technology and also an interest in the renewable energy component.
“While it is going to be challenging, we are collaborating with the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, and the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. to ensure we keep Barbados top of mind and entice persons to come to Barbados,” he added.
Ever since Britain’s first lockdown in March that coincided with similar measures here, the accommodations sector recorded declines of 92.1 per cent in June and 90.6 in July when compared with the same period for 2019, according to Grant. However there was light at the end of the tunnel in August and September when declines of just 66.3 and 51.4 per cent were recorded.
Then, eight months after the first lockdown in March, U.K Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a new coronavirus lockdown that would last well into the month of December when local arrivals were expected to significantly improve.
The BHTA head however remains optimistic.
“We believe this is a good, viable industry, which we expect will fully recover,” Grant concluded.