BTI boss predicts full employment by 2019
If all goes according to plan, Barbados could witness approximately US$1 billion in investment, an additional 2,300 hotel rooms and thousands of new jobs by 2019.
In addition, a multi-million dollar private/public sector investment partnership in a performing arts centre and marina project could be coming to the Carlisle Bay area.
This strategy was outlined by Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc (BTI) Stuart Layne this morning as he addressed a media briefing at the Savannah Hotel at which the tourism industry’s performance for the first half of the year was revealed.
Layne said the BTI intended to build at least “one or two new” hotels every year up to 2019 and increase tourism’s contribution to the economy.
“Our objective, basically, is to add at least one or two new products to the inventory -in other words, one or two hotels every single year commencing in 2015, all the way through to 2019 and beyond; to increase the Government’s receipts to about $2 billion [and] to employ an additional 7,500 persons directly and about 16,000 persons indirectly. So you are looking at [close to] 24,000 persons that we are looking to have in the sector or in ancillary development over the next 10 years,” he said.
Pointing to the significant impact the planned developments could have on the economy in terms of foreign exchange earnings and employment opportunities, the tourism official said the plan was already in action with the opening of the 280-room Sandals Resorts last year, the reopening of the 150-room Sugar Bay Resort (formerly Amaryllis), and the ongoing construction of the 153-room The Sands (formerly Sandy Beach), which is projected to open in October.
He said a part of the idea was to make the island a year-round destination.
“As you know, tourism is the lifeblood of this economy and our job, as we see it, is to permanently increase the foreign exchange reserves and resources coming into Barbados, and that is to the benefit of all Barbadians,” the BTI head stressed.
Stating that the strategy was being achieved through partnerships and by listening to what visitors and investors were asking for, Layne said there were several projects in the pipeline.
Although not going into details, Layne said Sandals Casuarina was working to have an additional 220 rooms by November next year; Hyatt in Bay Street and Wyndham in St Philip were to be completed by 2018, providing an additional 640 rooms; a private sector development would start in Foul Bay, St Philip later this year, providing 309 rooms; and Sandals Beaches and “other planned developments” were to commence in 2017, providing an additional 400 and 150 rooms respectively.
“That brings us to a total of an additional 2,300 rooms. This is rather important because it will have a very positive impact on the Barbadian economy,” Layne said.
“In relation to the impact, the phase that we are in now, the 2015 – 2019 phase, we are talking about an impact on the economy of directly 4,528 jobs; total contribution to GDP of US$876 million and total employment of over 14,000 persons. Now there are approximately 16,000 persons unemployed. So if we are creating 14,000 jobs directly and indirectly, it means that this country theoretically can go up to full employment by 2019. I know that is bit of a mouthful and probably hard to accept but we are on a path and all we have to do is stay on that path.”
The tourism executive would not disclose the full plan for the Carlisle Bay area development, but said it would be led primarily by private sector investment.
However, when pressed, Layne said that development alone could easily total about US$1 billion in investment.
He gave the assurance that it would be done in a way that would not “overpower” or take away from the natural use of the beach along the Carlisle Bay corridor.
“We have had a lot of interest from local as well as international investors. Right now . . . Barbados is seeing quite a huge interest from international investors because we are considered to be competitive in terms of our incentive regime,” Layne added.