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BTA will get back teeth

The Barbados Tourism Authority will be fully restored as the primary marketing agency for tourism, should the Barbados Labour Party win the upcoming elections.

The party’s manifesto released tonight by party leader Owen Arthur at a mass launch at Eagle Hall and available online shortly before midnight, stated under the heading of Financing, Investment & Incentives, that the administration would “provide the sector with the first claim on Government’s revenues, and fully fund the marketing programme of the BTA”.

It further promised to review and adjusts the tariff and tax structures including VAT, and the legislative regime governing the sector “to make them more conducive to attracting and facilitating private sector investment for the development of the sector”.

It would also: “Immediately decrease the amount of VAT paid on accommodation from the present 8.75 per cent to the original 7.5 per cent thereby removing the cloud of uncertainty that looms over the accommodation sub-sector in relation to the increase in VAT levied on them until further notice.

“Alleviate the recent stiff increases in utility and energy costs imposed on the accommodation sector by the DLP administration and reduce the amounts paid by the sub-sector for utilities, [and]

“Reduce the bound rates on commodities used by the hospitality industry and entirely phase out the very high bound rates where there is no local production being protected.”

A Staycation Tax Rebate was also on the cards to support the Staycation programme as a temporary measure until the sector regained its external vibrancy.

“This will encourage foreign exchange retention by the economy at large and improve the financial position of the industry.”

A special Tourism Development Bond would be floated “to be managed within the National Reconstruction Fund, by tapping into nontraditional funding from regional and international bodies, to assist with the development of Barbados’ guest room capacity, including the small hotel sub-sector”.

The party, if it formed the new government, pledged to “work with existing national financial institutions to create more merchant banking and venture capital solutions to amplify funding opportunities for all segments of the sector.

“Partner with the private sector to develop new investment projects and further improve facilities and the general ambiance of key tourism areas, including the City, The Needhams Point area, St. Lawrence Gap, Oistins, Speightstown and non-traditional areas, including Bathsheba and the North and North Eastern areas of Barbados generally.

“Encourage, promote and facilitate tourism development that is fully accessible to physically challenged users.

Create and fully develop alternative tourism niches and products including Health and Wellness, Retirement and Education tourism and diversify other existing market segments, [and]

“Revise the schedule to the Tourism Development Act to encourage greater investment and reinvestment in accommodation and attractions.” (LB)

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