Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Barbados Hotel Tourism Association (BHTA) Senator Rudy Grant says the hotel and accommodation sector have begun to see signs of recovery although there is still a long way to go.
He said last year occupancy fell as low as 4.7 per cent but from February to June 2021 occupancy levels in hotels increased to between 15 to 20 per cent, while authorities have seen an improvement in revenues between 10 to 15 per cent of what it would have been in 2019.
“We are seeing some measure of recovery. We are expecting that by the winter we will see occupancy in excess of 50 per cent. When Barbados was put on the UK’S green list instantaneously bookings increased.
“That is very positive for us. What it demonstrates is what our partners have been telling us, that Barbados is still the number one selling destination in the Caribbean. It says something about us,” he said.
Senator Grant was speaking during the debate on the Remote Employment (Amendment) Bill, 2021 which was passed in the Upper Chamber today.
The amendment bill allows for the extension of the existing legislation governing the welcome stamp.
The Government senator said that the welcome stamp programme has demonstrated the confidence that persons have in Barbados. He said while COVID-19 is having a significant impact on countries around the world, people are willing to leave their homes to come to Barbados to live and work, which says a lot about how the country has managed the pandemic.
Senator Grant said: “I support this piece of legislation. It has certainly been positive for many of our BHTA members, the hotels, villas in particular, guest houses and apartments. The reality is that without this programme, some of that business just would not have been there.
“But there is another component as well and Minister [of Tourism and International Business Lisa Cummins] did indicate that these persons are here for a long period and what we have also observed is that some of them are investing in Barbados.
“Some of them are purchasing and looking to purchase property here. There are many people who come to Barbados and fall in love with our country. If you go online and see what is being said about the welcome stamp, one of the first things you will see is that people are being encouraged to come and work from paradise.”
Also voicing concerns about the crime situation in Barbados which Opposition Senator Caswell Franklyn said is likely to have a devastating effect on the country’s tourism product, Grant said it is time more businesses give back to the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) in a tangible way.
He explained that recently, the BHTA assisted in sponsoring a police training programme at the Hilton Hotel aimed at showing officers how to utilize best practices and incorporate technology into policing strategies. He said BHTA and other stakeholders would have also pooled hundreds of thousands of dollars into providing law enforcement officials with cameras and other crime fighting materials.
Grant said: “I want to use this opportunity to encourage other businesses as well to support the Royal Barbados Police Force because I believe that that is very important.”