Alarm Bell

Govt attention needed now, says BHTA president

The head of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) is sounding an alarm that all is not well in the hospitality sector and urgent Government attention is required to prevent hotel closures and other serious consequences.

President Sunil Chatrani said today the signs of disaster are too many to ignore and serious action, rather than more talk and studies, is necessary.

Sunil Chatrani
Sunil Chatrani

“We need to fix what we have and we need the tools to be able to do so. I am referring to the concessions that were approved by cabinet nearly nine months ago that we still cannot access. If we are serious about turning this economy around, then we need to create a conducive environment to facilitate the necessary and long overdue reinvestments,” he said in a statement issued this evening.

Highlighting concerns expressed by ministers, stakeholders and other observers about a range of issues affecting the industry, he added: “The recent debates concerning shortage of rooms, quality of rooms, declining tourist arrivals over the last decade, concessions to Sandals, lack of clarity of direct tourism services, restructuring of the Barbados Tourism Authority, loss in airlift capacity from major feeder markets, high operating costs, low returns on investments, declining service standards, losing our share of the younger tourist market, limited attractions . . . all serve as smoke signals to indicate that all is not well.”

Chatrani pointed out that the problems facing the industry have already been well documented.

And he contended that if Barbados is really depending on the industry to turn the economy around, “then we really need to stop and listen and deal with the issues.”

“Several studies have been done and many papers exist on the challenges of the industry. None of the recent comments highlighted in the press are new. There is the PCS study, the Tourism Master Plan, The Tourism White Paper and the list goes on. They all basically identify the challenges and the areas that we need to focus on, but these studies and documents have been around for years now and little has been done strategically to regain our share of the market in the Caribbean,”             he said.

Insisting that he was not trying to stir up any political debate or pit the private sector against the public sector, the BHTA boss said each side had to contribute to the solution.

“We all are responsible for our own success and something needs to be done urgently or we will continue to see our room inventory decline with the closure of existing hotels and the deterioration of the remaining room stock.

“We are already an overpriced destination that is uncompetitive and the situation will only continue to get worse if we do not address these problems now,” Chatrani added.

Although not making any direct reference to Government’s decision to compulsorily acquire the Sam Lord’s Castle property and spend $200 million in transforming it into 450-room resort, he argued that adding new room inventory cannot be the quick fix.


3 Responses to Alarm Bell

  1. jr smith August 15, 2014 at 6:43 am

    Not only the hotel industry, but Barbados needs ,a proper management team ,to move forward., my take , bajans living in cloud cookoo land, tourist come and go , bajans are permanent fixtures , who suffers the after effect of , market forces , greed and product over pricing.
    Barbados , because of overall bad management, no forward economic planning, people has given the politicians the overall rights to screw up they basic economic family values.
    Barbados and the people who shout loudess , have not the vision to realize that they have priced barbados out of the tourist industry/market.
    The end product of this present time, companies in general is using these so call economic hard times to , get rid of staffing levels, as an excuse to cover the bad management policies and practices ,over the past years just foliowng the government lead,with out any compramises what so ever.
    The same issue came about in the uk, this because companies made sure ,they must always be making 100% profits.
    This is the time the government of barbados, needs to restructure ASAP and regroup all the failed parts of the economy, plus lookin at a 5 year economic plan, with a strategic planning group. to move the economy forward.
    Taxes isn’t the answer, employing the right persons with the qualifications and logical ideas.
    Businesses and government fail , because of people , not because of the enviroment.

  2. Patrick Blackman August 15, 2014 at 10:03 am

    These hotel guys need to understand that they are running a commercial operation and in so doing have to manage their affairs astutely. Stop waiting on benefits from government , run your business as it should be without all the long talk. If you can not run your business without government subsides then you are not commercially viable and therefore you should shut it down. This level of mendicancy is just pathetic, grow up, you are in the real world now. And by the way there are too many of you now, merge and consolidate, its much better for the market, but hey you guys are just plain greedy….

  3. Rickie Nurse August 16, 2014 at 12:19 am

    A woman was left a sizable fortune by her late husband which she use wisely to maintain herself and six children, the age differences were a bit wide between children with the last being twenty five years younger than the first.
    At her death the will was read and it was discovered that she had given two thirds of the inheritance to the last child, with the remainder one third to be divided amongst the other five siblings.
    This act as you may guess caused great animosity, bickering, jealousy, warring and fighting among the siblings. because of the apparent division of the inheritance by the mother for the siblings.

    Now this little story is comparable to what is going on at this moment in our hotel and tourism sector with the large disparity of concessions given to one ( THE LAST CHILD ), while the others are expected to get by however they can with all the import and excise duties being imposed on them, with no signs of ease or similar concessions granted to them to help in their operation.

    Bad management by this government is what is hurting and crippling our tourism sector which can be taken to literally mean the central nervous system of our economic existence.

    1) Sandals was given certain concessions because of the agreement reached with government. A promise was made by government that similar concessions would be granted to other tourism players, almost nine months onward no action taken.

    )2 The Four Seasons project was stymied by this administration on gaining office from 2008, forcing investors to halt operations and pullout. At almost every sitting of the House of Assembly all we are constantly being told is “plans are in the pipeline to restart the Four Seasons project” but no action is being taken.

    )3 A bid was made to redevelop Sam Lords Castle by a well established local business person, that same person also made a bid to do the same for Almond Beach Heywoods, to the extent the person was seen on and in the media giving hints of confirmation, but for reasons known only to those involved, both proposals were denied.

    The redevelopment of Sam Lords Castle is a good idea, but not at this time when there are other more serious and pressing matters to be addressed. Why look to spend $200 mil. dollars at this time when that same money or part of it can be used to complete the Four Seasons Project and the remainder put to assisting the other hotels that are in desperate need of assistance.
    These are more capable of producing favourable results in the immediate future that Sam Lords Castle will, even if completed within the next five years.
    This government is inflicting deadly wounds to it’s self through the bad management of the tourism sector.


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