Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Senator Rudy Grant calls for all stakeholders, Government, the private sector and trade unions to deepen collaboration and strengthen each other as partners as the sector seeks to rebuild from the fallout triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Below is the full text of the BHTA’s message:
BHTA’S MESSAGE FOR BARBADOS’ 54th ANNIVERSARY OF INDEPENDENCE
At the start of 2020 we were anticipating that this year would be another record breaking year reflecting tangible successes for the tourism industry. Instead, 2020 has been extremely challenging for tourism. The survival of tourism enterprises and the maintaining of jobs has been a monumental challenge as we confront the ravages of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Our industry has confronted destructive elements in the past, but COVID-19 is by far the worst in living memory that many of us have experienced.
Today, as we celebrate our 54th anniversary of Independence, we are confident that we will continue to be resilient and, in partnership with all stakeholders, rebuild our enormously important tourism industry. As we persevere in an industry where there has been significant reduction in business activity, with significantly less visitors coming to Barbados, we remain confident of the long-term survival of the tourism industry.
Our travel partners inform us that Barbados continues to be a visitor destination of choice and one that is top-of-mind in our source markets. The tour operators in the United Kingdom have communicated to us that Barbados continues to be the number one selling destination in the region. They have also informed that there is pent-up demand for travel to our island and our discussions with airlines reveal that travellers still want to come here. We are confident that when the lockdown in the United Kingdom ends, the airlift and visitor arrivals will continually grow, and could likely be at a higher level than previously anticipated.
Last week the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) hosted its inaugural Spirit of Barbados Virtual Mega Fam 2020, which attracted more than 700 travel agents from the United States and Canada. The major airlines out of these source markets continue to increase their scheduled services which demonstrate their confidence in Barbados.
Many of our members, particularly our villa accommodation members, as well as some of our hotel accommodation members, have benefited from the Barbados Welcome Stamp. This initiative has provided an opportunity for our accommodation members and has been a welcomed business opportunity.
The BEST Programme. with its focus on the re-engagement of workers, further enhancement of tourism enterprises through investment in greening, renewable energy and other such transformative projects, in addition to the training for employees, positions Barbados to be more globally competitive.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has emphasised how extremely important the tourism industry is for our country. We have all been made aware of the extent to which this industry supports individuals and families. This demonstrates how extremely important tourism is for us and all Barbadians are encouraged to embrace the well-known motto, ‘tourism is our business, let us play our part’.
The challenges this year have presented the opportunity for us to review this industry and to determine how we can better reposition it for the benefit of all stakeholders going forward. It is important for us to take time to reset and refocus, to adopt new modalities, to ensure that we enhance our product offering, improve our infrastructure, enhance the skills of our workers and provide an improved visitor experience. On this our 54th anniversary of Independence there must be a renewed commitment on the part of all stakeholders, Government, the private sector and trade unions to deepen our collaboration and to strengthen each other as partners.
The BHTA will continue to provide advocacy on behalf of our members and to represent their interests. We will also continue to strengthen our collaborations with our strategic partners including the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, the BTMI, the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC), the Intimate Hotels of Barbados (IHB) and the Barbados Workers’ Union, as well as the manufacturing, agriculture and cultural sectors, to ensure the survival and sustainability of this very important industry, and for Barbados generally.
As we celebrate our 54th anniversary and reflect on this year, we at the BHTA want to again publicly thank the Ministry of Health and Wellness, the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, and all the front-line workers who have worked tirelessly to help our country weather this Covid-19 storm. Your efforts are deeply appreciated. To every Barbadian, the fight continues. I urge you to continue to follow the protocols and keep safe.
On behalf of the Chairman, Directors, members and staff of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA), I take this opportunity to extend greetings and happy Independence to all Barbadians.
Happy 54th anniversary of Independence, Barbados!
Senator Rudy Grant,
CEO -Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association