As Government prepares to impose tougher laws on the water sports industry, Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Senator Rudy Grant says he is keeping a close eye to ensure no one is disadvantaged.
The Ministry of Maritime Affairs is expected to introduce new regulations for water sports operators that would impose GPS tracking, new certification, stiff penalties and new coastal corridors.
Following dialogue with stakeholders in the industry, Cabinet has approved a proposal that should take effect when new shipping legislation is presented to Parliament soon. It is hoped that stiffer laws would bring greater order to the industry.
Grant told Barbados TODAY he was expecting further discussions with Ministry officials on the planned law, adding that water sport operators and beach vendors were an integral part of the tourism sector.
“From the BHTA perspective, we certainly want to make sure that the tourism industry is inclusive, that it provides the opportunity for a number of different players to be able to exist. It is not just about hotels,” he said.
“There are a wide range of individuals who make a living out of the tourism industry, and our desire is to ensure that we are able to work with our members to work with Government to facilitate the opportunity for as many people as possible; and particularly at a time when we face COVID-19, this has been extremely challenging,” he added.
The proposed legislation is also expected to have a requirement for all new operators of pleasure craft to undergo specialised training, with violators running the risk of losing their licences.
Grant said the BHTA would continue to play a critical role in ensuring that those who rely primarily on visitors to the island were adequately being facilitated by Government.
“So yes, while our core business relates to the tourism industry, we have a responsibility to help in other areas to support people, support their livelihood and ensure that Barbadians can still continue to function, and particularly at a time when there have been significant challenges as a result of COVID-19,” he said.
At the same time, Chairman of the BHTA Geoffrey Roach insisted that despite some less than favourable incidents, there were a lot of positives in the sector and the BHTA would be ramping up its public relations campaign in an effort to share more of those positive stories.
He said the new public relations programme should be rolled out by the end of next month.
“We need to be able to tell our stories and build a better awareness of the industry and the role the industry plays in the life of Barbadians, and the economic benefit to Barbados,” said Roach.
The BHTA officials were speaking during a recent media update.