Small hotelier blasts Govt

A local hotelier is accusing Government of placing greater value on the international hotel chains at the expense of indigenous lodging.

General Manager of Sugar Bay Barbados Morgan Seale today argued that a state of inequity existed within the tourism sector as big hotel chains were being given an advantage over the smaller, home-grown properties.

“The reason I say that independents [small hotels] have to be given a fighting chance is because we have a tendency to overvalue the big brands. Obviously we want to see chains coming into the country but we have to be careful how we do that and I am talking specifically about Sandals. Yes we want to come with these concessions but we can’t do it at the expense of the indigenous product,” Seale said during a panel discussion which formed part of the third quarter general meeting of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) at the Hilton Barbados Resort.

The concessions granted to Sandals in 2013 caused quite a stir among hoteliers here who argued they were being placed at a competitive disadvantage and demanded that the Freundel Stuart administration gives them the same incentives.

These concessions included the waiver of all taxes, duties and other similar compulsory payments on locally sourced or imported capital goods,  all consumables for hotel operations, all food, alcohol and beverages; the waiver on all Value Added Tax on services directly related to the construction or cyclical refurbishment of the property;  similar exemptions on vehicles for commercial use at the property and similar exemptions on vehicles and personal effects for expatriate staff.

The concessions are to remain in effect for 25 years, after which the taxes will be imposed at 50 per cent of the rates in force for another 15 years.

Government later amended the Tourism Development Act to allow hotels to import food, beverage and consumables, putting them on the same level a Sandals. However, local hoteliers have continued to complain that they were yet to achieve parity.

Seale said this was so despite available data showing indigenous hotels were less reliant on foreign labour.

“The new hotel Waves recently opened and that hotel group has over 1,000 employees but only two work permits. Our hotel has over 500 employees and only two work permits as well and that is something we are very proud of the fact that we promote Barbadians every day. I should also add that none of those work permits apply to senior staff positions. Meanwhile Sandals has 150 work permits for about 500 staff members,” he said to thunderous applause.

The Sugar Bay Barbados General Manager said local brands were now just as competitive in the arena of brand promotion as they had found powerful allies in customer review sites such as TripAdvisor and Expedia. He argued that these sites were heavily relied upon to inform the decisions of the travelling public, and indigenous brands ranked higher in terms of customer experiences.

9 Responses to Small hotelier blasts Govt

  1. Ryan Bayne
    Ryan Bayne September 22, 2016 at 2:47 am

    At least this gentleman has a point right here. This government has lost their way and mind completely.

  2. Mervin Kellman September 22, 2016 at 1:45 pm

    The terminological inexactitudes of this Government are being exposed with every passing day. Did I not hear the Tourism Minister in his presentation during the recent budget debate, say that the small and indigenous hotels had expressed satisfaction with the level and the dispensement of the concessions now being offered to them under the amended Tourism Development Act?

  3. Donild Trimp September 22, 2016 at 2:58 pm

    How can any sensible Barbadian vote to keep the Fuedel Stuart Gov’t in power for another term?

    Jobs for Barbadians should be a priority of this Gov’t given the dismal job market in Barbados.

    It is a disgrace for Sandals to be granted 150 work permits out of a staff of 500 employees.

    An insult to all Barbadians.

  4. Zeus September 23, 2016 at 4:51 am

    Wanna got me lost now…. A foreign hotel brand is introduced to Barbados and it’s work permits it compared to a local brand…. If the local brand had that amount how on earth it can be local… It’s like telling me that the US embassy here should have all bajans working for it

    • Donild Trimp September 23, 2016 at 11:38 am

      Genius Zeus, comparing employees at the US embassy with employees at Sandals Hotel is not the same thing. You are comparing apples to oranges.

      The ratio of permits to employ foreign nationals at Sandals is disgraceful.

      Put simply, 150 work permits out of a staff of 500 is a disgrace to all Barbadians. It is disproportionately out of whack and questions the intelligence of all Barbadians.

      Are you telling me that out of 150 positions at Sandals you cannot find at least 75 qualified Barbadians to fill those positions?

  5. Zeus September 23, 2016 at 4:58 am

    Another thing I can’t believe persons here talking about local jobs when under the last administration there was more Guyanese workers than flies in Barbados and the leader then welcomed it…. Man some a wanna really know how to politicalize a situation and then make fools of yourselves

    • Donild Trimp September 23, 2016 at 1:25 pm

      To be honest Mr.Zeus, I think you are the one making a fool of yourself.

    • Coralita September 24, 2016 at 2:32 am

      Wah yah saying is true.

  6. lislehepos September 24, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    -Who ever heard of Sugar Bay in the USA, Canada or UK markets?
    -If we are so proud of our Bajan product why you do not include the name of our country when you name your business, isn’t Barbados the most important reason why a traveler to visit us?
    -How much did the local hotelier invest in their hotel product before Sandals opened their doors, it was the same old same old dated stale hotel product that was being offered to our visitors.
    -Sandals came on board and shook all awake in sleepy Barbados and now all want the same benefits, while not even close in the neighborhood when it comes to with investment and having a brand impact internationally to attract visitors to our island.
    -Focus should be on capitalizing on the additional visitors to our island and make them returning visitors, upgrade our tourism product, show unity and prepare for better times.


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