Long, hard winter
Some hoteliers in Barbados are already considering the possibility of shutting down
and sending home their workers.
Following a marathon closed-door extraordinary general meeting of the Barbados
Hotel & Tourism Association at Island Inn in Acquatic Gap, St Michael, today, executive vice-president
Sue Springer warned that some members were already looking at possible closure, should they enter
the winter season that starts on December 15, without securing the same suite of tax concessions
given to Sandals.
Springer told a media conference that while the Minister of Finance and of Tourism had assured
the BHTA that Government was working on the concessions, the hoteliers were worried about the
economic fallout of not being able to compete in the marketplace during the lucrative winter season.
She lamented that even now, Sandals was in the market benefiting from a 40 per cent discount on
rates and packaging, a measure which other all-inclusive hotels could not take advantage of.
“This cannot continue, and this is why we had the meeting. We wanted to discuss what we
had done. We have been corresponding with the Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs and the
Minister of Tourism and International Transport. We have had meetings with both of the ministers.
The last letter we sent, we have had an acknowledgement stating that the minister is working on these concessions; and what our message is today is that we are very would be engaging the Social Partnership as it tried to get the tax relief urgently from
happy that he is working on them,” the hoteliers’ spokesperson noted. However, Springer added: ”It is really imperative that we can move forward in the winter season
with an even playing field; and the winter season commences, as we all know, on December 15. Without this, you are going to have some challenges, and already, interestingly, people are looking at whether or not it will affect employment, whether or not it will affect the possibility of closure of some hotels –– not immediately, but if this is not resolved as soon as possible.”
The BHTA leader explained that “soon as possible” meant by the start of the new season next month. She cautioned that while bookings looked reasonably well for the winter and were at the same levels as last year’s, “we have to be careful that moving forward, we don’t miss the boat for the summer, and that we take every action that we possibly can to maximise what is in front of us”, Springer advised.
Government. Springer made it clear that the hoteliers were not fighting Sandals. ”In fact, we are not fighting anybody. What we are trying to do, is to make sure
that the concessions that have been offered to Sandals Resorts International are offered to all of the hotels in this country,” she continued. “The door,” she pointed out, “has been opened for concessions. Therefore, it has to be a fair open-door policy, and that is the message; and it is the message that has come from all of our members.
“It doesn’t matter whether it is a hotel, or whether or not it is a DTS operator, or whatever; because some of these operations have food components in them and they have other components that are going to be affected by the concession basis, because if they cannot purchase some of the items that are put in these concessions, then they cannot compete.”
The BHTA executive also told reporters that the association