by Marlon Madden
Chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Renée Coppin is not prepared to sit back and allow the tourism industry to experience the same fate of that of the sugar industry.
Coppin made this clear recently as she indicated that the BHTA was carrying out critical research in an effort to address concerns within and about the industry so it can remain a major contributor to employment and economic activities.
Coppin told the BHTA first quarterly general meeting that tourism accounted for some 14 per cent of the island’s employment and the sector earned most of the island’s foreign exchange, contributing around 40 per cent of Barbados’ gross domestic product (GDP), directly and indirectly.
“Therefore, we take very seriously the BHTA’s role to be the private sector organisation providing national leadership for vibrant and sustainable tourism development. We see our success as inextricably linked to the success of our island and hence, we will continue to push forward on matters that we feel are important to the viability of this industry but also to that of our island,” said Coppin.
“One such issue is the ease of doing business. We as a secretariat are 100 per cent committed to working with our members and private sector partners, to both propel and support the government towards active facilitation of business growth and success. We cannot afford for tourism to go the way of sugar. We must not allow the local narrative to become one which vilifies this industry and the very meaningful opportunities for both employment and ownership that it offers Barbadians,” she said.
“Yet we sense that creeping decay and so we have commissioned a study of public perception of the industry by CADRES. We want to truly understand how Barbadians feel about tourism and so that we can help to address the real concerns they may face and try to work with all Barbadians to ensure that tourism remains our business,” she explained.
This survey forms part of a wider public relations initiative, which was started by the BHTA last year and which involves a series of radio and webinar programmes with industry operators. Coppin said the initiatives would continue this year and the BHTA would be extending its social media education.
Meanwhile, Chief Executive Officer of the BHTA Rudy Grant said the BHTA was working closely with the umbrella Barbados Private Sector Association (BPSA) to lobby government on a range of issues.
“The BPSA and its constituent members are expecting further discussions within the Social Partnership on the important matters which will assist in enhancing the business environment to the benefit of Barbadians and visitors,” said Grant. He promised that the organisation would continue to work with partners to ensure a renewed focus was placed on the building of a more sustainable and environmentally friendly tourism product.
“The strategic partnerships and collaboration by the BHTA with Government, the private sector and the trade unions have assisted in safeguarding this vital industry. The commitment and dedication of our workers has contributed immensely to our ability to survive this treacherous period,” he said.
“As the resurgence of our industry occurs, we will give new impetus and attention to sustainability and explore sustainable action projects. Securing this industry for the benefit and enjoyment of future generations of Barbadians and visitors requires that we take the necessary action today,” said Grant.