Chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Renee Coppin is calling on authorities to urgently address what she says is a threat to the visitor experience in Barbados.
On Friday evening, Coppin told the BHTA’s third quarterly general meeting at the Harrison’s Cave Eco-Adventure Park in St Thomas that information has emerged that taxi operators at the Grantley Adams International Airport (GAIA) were quoting unsuspecting passengers a variety of rates.
She told the gathering that the association would continue to push for that and other issues to be addressed, as she maintained that the implementation of the new taxi rates in January was rushed.
Effective January 7, 2023, taxi rates were adjusted upwards for the first time in about 15 years. Fares from the GAIA to various locations across the island increased on average by some 70 per cent.
At the time, Coppin said while the BHTA was in full agreement with an increase in taxi fares, she would have preferred an approach that was not so sudden and, in some cases, drastic.
“I had a painful voice message from a family of four returning home recently who had a very negative encounter at the airport with taxi drivers quoting a multiplicity of different rates,” she said on Friday.
“One of the biggest challenges to our development as a sector and the country is our willingness to commit to deadlines. And we have been trying to get that taxi tariff issue results since January when it was introduced.
“So even though I am often accused of wanting things to happen quickly, certainly eight months in and the confusion and the stress that continue among locals and visitors alike, I can’t be accused of being in a rush,” said the BHTA boss.
Meanwhile, Coppin said members were also concerned that one of the association’s oldest calls has still not been answered, despite some progress over the years.
Last year, she reported that a committee was set up to devise a structure for a “trusted trader programme” that would see tourism industry operators being able to finally access concessions under the Tourism Development (Amendment) Act (TDAA) and the Tourism Development Act, as intended.
However, she suggested on Friday that this was still an issue to be addressed.
Coppin also pledged that the BHTA would continue to conduct research to help improve the industry, as she called on members to give their full support.