Former hotelier warns that Barbados needs to get its house in order

A former hotelier says Barbados desperately needs to get its financial house in order and is forecasting slow recovery in its bread and butter tourism industry.

Edward Robinson, the former owner of the Bagshot House hotel in Worthing further suggests that several improvements would have to be made in order for the island to adequately compete with other tourism destinations going forward.

“I love this island. I am a Bajan, born and raised. I just feel for it that is all,” said Robinson, who now resides in Canada.

“Barbados need to get its financial house in order first of all. It needs to raise its productivity. The productivity here is abysmal. There are people here being hired to do, but who do nothing. This island has over the years gone down to a stage where it seems to be lethargic now,” he lamented.

And despite a positive outlook from industry officials over the past few weeks, with reports of an upsurge in forward bookings, Robinson cautioned that “the market has not come back yet” as people in the major source markets were still feeling the effects of the 2008 global financial crisis.

At the same time, he complained that some of the island’s real estate was overpriced.

“Don’t forget that in 2008 there was a massive worldwide financial crisis, which absolutely destroyed a lot of financial markets and hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, who thought the sun would never stop shining. And some who were carrying home huge pay packets were suddenly ground to a halt and we have not got back to that stage where we see British, Canadian and US people streaming into Barbados paying $15 million and $20 million for some of those homes in Sandy Lane, far less the overpriced real estate here in Barbados, which seems to sell from time to time.

“You can’t seem to find anything decent under a million [US] dollars,” he added.

The retired hotelier, who also worked in Canada, said he believed Barbados had fallen from the number one spot after being the envy of the rest of the region for many years.

”From Independence we were the ones that the other islands would say, ‘look at Barbados, look at what they are doing’. I think that has changed. I think Trinidad is moving in and buying everything we own because they were rich [with] the oil money, but that is changing now too.

“. . . I just think we have to improve,” he stressed, noting that there were additional issues that needed to be corrected in order to help revive the island’s main foreign exchange earner, including a change in the behaviour of public service vehicle operators, as well waste disposal practices.

“Barbados is dirty. People are throwing everything everywhere in the street. They are just eat something and tossing it in the nearest bush. They never used to do that. They were clean, orderly and mannerly people. Now they shout and scream [and] there are boom boxes going off.

“It is a very noisy country. And you notice that when you come from an orderly place where you don’t get that . . . and no one seems to be doing anything about it,” Robinson lamented. 

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