New BHTA head wants gambling allowed onshore
Newly elected president of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA), Sunil Chatrani, is calling for casinos to be established here to lure more tourists to the island.
Chatrani said this morning that there were not enough attractions to entice visitors and the country needed to up the ante.
“I have said in the past that we don’t have enough attractions [all year round]. We need dolphin parks, we need –– I’m going to be controversial here –– I’m even talking about casinos, you know? There are different things we need to look at,” he recommended at a media briefing at Courtyard At Marriott in Hastings which was called to announce the resumption of Delta Airlines’ service to Barbados.
Chairman of the Barbados Tourism Association (BTA), Adrian Elcock, was of the view it was a matter which should be “put on the table”.
Chatrani insisted Barbados could not continue to operate in the way it had in the past.
“We just can’t have the sea, the sand and the sun, you know? We need more things to keep people entertained on island, and we need better accommodation as well. We do need some brands. If you look at the properties on island, there are a few brands but there are not enough of those brands either. We need to look at that brand marketing to help with what we are doing in Barbados,” the hotel executive insisted.
Chatrani was also critical of the quality of some accommodations offered to visitors.
He said some were in serious need of upgrade.
“I represent membership; so the membership is not going to like this; [but] I think we need to upgrade our plant. I think for us to remain competitive, we have to upgrade,” he said, acknowledging that some properties were doing it and that Sandals Resorts coming onboard and upgrading would force others to follow.
“But it comes back to return on investment again, and as many people would always say, in our industry we do have a lot of capital tied up in this busines at the end of the day,” he added.
“We talk a lot about what is required to be profitable and I think at the BTA the Government of Barbados is supporting us in terms of the concessions we are looking for to make this profitable and reinvestment that is required of the plant. So in short time you will see that.”
But Chatrani pointed out that, in the meantime, there were plans to build additional properties in Barbados.
“There are a lot of properties on stream to do redevelopments at this stage, but we do have to raise our product levels, it cannot continue the way it is now,” he declared.
Meanwhile, Chatrani said having Delta Airlines on board would help the island increase its arrivals from the United States.
“The US market is where we’ve been struggling a little bit; the UK market has rebounded quite nicely. The US market, we need to do some things there,” he said.
The BHTA head said now that the BTA, the Government of Barbados and Delta had done their part, it was up to BHTA members to “take it to the next level and to help get those load factors up to maintain and to grow the flights”.