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Tourism payback

Sealy warns hoteliers that workers must also get their due

With the Government’s recent approval of concessions for local hoteliers and tourism looking good this winter, Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy suggests it is as good time as any for employers in the vital sector to consider pay increases for workers.

He made the suggestion at a major tourism gathering on Thursday night to celebrate the start of the island’s busiest visitor arrivals period and to honour frontline workers “who make the difference in the sector”.

Delving into what he called the “kernel of the matter”, the Minister of Tourism pointed out that “workers in the tourism industry have held strain for a number of years now”.

Therefore, “now we’re seeing more spend [and] now that the Government has come to the table and has given the sector some extremely generous concessions, I would sincerely hope that the returns that they [hoteliers] are seeing would  be shared as well with the workers,” Sealy said in a brief address to those in attendance at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Consistent with the buzz around the industry, he said, this winter season looks  to be a very good one in terms of bookings and the number of the visitors coming in to the island.

“From all indications, it looks like if the spend will also be up,” he stressed.

Continuing to make his case for a tourism workers’ salary increase, Sealy spelt out the significant import duty concessions recently granted to hoteliers.

BHTA Vice-President, Colin Jordan (second left) in talks with Tourism Minister, Richard Sealy (right)       and other industry officials at last night’s event.

BHTA Vice-President, Colin Jordan (second left) in talks with Tourism Minister, Richard Sealy (right) and other industry officials at last night’s event.

“We came up with this programme where tourism will be treated as an export sector to reduce the cost of the sector to improve their returns to investment, but it must also be kept in mind that part of the reason that we did it was to ensure all the stakeholders are able to benefit.”

He said while Government hopes to benefit from the stepped up commerce in tourism by way of increased levels of taxation, “I would expect that the workers… should see benefit as well”.

Underscoring his belief that this was payback time for the relief granted to tourism investors, the Minister said while he was not trying to pre-empt any negotiations between employers and the workers’ representatives “I think you need to keep all of that in mind, and be aware that certainly where the Government is concerned we have done our part … the  workers have done their part too, and I look forward to see what will happen going forward from here”.

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