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Tourism bill passed

Parliament tonight passed amendments to the Tourism Development Act that will allow all local hotels to benefit from concessions similar to those given to international hotel chain Sandals.

Minister of Tourism and International Transport Richard Sealy, who moved the Second Reading of the Tourism Development (Amendment) Bill in Parliament on the first day back from summer recess, said the changes were made to address the dynamic nature of the tourism industry to allow every hotel in Barbados to get what it needed to stay competitive.

While welcoming foreign investment in the tourism industry, Sealy told fellow Members of Parliament that he wanted to encourage local investors to also play their part in the sector.

Richard Sealy

Richard Sealy

“The captains of industry in Barbados should get involved in the tourism sector and indeed those that are already involved in the tourism sector should feel comfortable to invest. They should go out there, take risks and attract investment partners. So we as a Government intend to keep our word. As with Sandals and other projects the objectives remain the same. We have to improve the quality of the hotel rooms in Barbados because it is of paramount importance,” the St Michael South Central MP said.

Sealy pointed out that with the amendment to the Tourism Development Act hoteliers who have restaurants on the hotel plant would be allowed to import all food and drink, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, free of duty.

“With these changes all inputs for the hotel plant in Barbados will now be duty free. This is in keeping with Government’s policy to treat tourism as an export in the full sense of the word. Any taxes will be on the outputs not on the inputs. There are some controls, which state that the concessions will be given subject to conditions outlined by the Minister of Tourism and the Comptroller of Customs. The benefits will be given to the hotelier for a specific purpose, which is to ensure that the hotels are competitive. Each hotel will be asked to provide all the information pertinent to the size of the plant, the number of rooms and the number of employees as well as the items usually imported. The information must be submitted electronically to effectively monitor the situation.”

Sealy stressed that hotels hoping to benefit from the concessions had to be willing to subject themselves to international standards.

“In the case of hotels we anticipate the Triple A standard. We would want more hotels to come on board and get there. My contacts in the private sector have told me that with the amendments more hotels will try to acquire the highest classifications,” Sealy said.

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