There is an admission that some workers in the hotel and tourism industry may be disillusioned in the sector due to the way they were treated after the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
Recently appointed chair of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. (BTMI) Roseanne Myers described it as “unfortunate” the way some workers were forced to confront employers in public demonstrations last year.
“It is unfortunate that some businesses made an early decision to close, some because they could do no better. The problem is that once you close, it is very difficult to reopen and that is why it was important for those operating in the sector to take advantage of the social safety net, try to hang on and then take advantage of whatever the government was offering.”
Myers added: “There are some businesses that took quite different decisions. They stopped operating early, cut their losses and close. What that did was leave many workers out in the cold, and I think it was unfortunate.
“I understand fully why some workers would be disappointed because you gave your heart and soul to something for many years and then a business owner takes a decision that was not necessarily founded on good business practice because they did not go after the help that was offered. And so, I understand the disillusionment.”
In response to the situation, Myers revealed that an audit was expected to be conducted soon on the sector to discover, among other things, what skills are available to return to the market.
“It speaks to the need for some kind of tourism disaster fund that will allow us to help ourselves a little better when these shocks occur. The industry will be back, however,” she said confidently.
Myers also predicted that when the tourism sector returns, many in businesses that chose not to reopen could find themselves on the auction block.
At the same time, the BTMI chairperson is also confident that there will be new investment in the sector.
In this connection, she said there was a renewed focus by the BTMI board on four key areas. These include product enhancement, including community-based products, human resources within the agency; national marketing; and financial management.
This article appears in the April 26 edition of COVID Weekly. Read the full publication here.