Pay back time – Watson

Independent Senator John Watson is calling on sectors which benefit directly from tourism to contribute more meaningfully to the island’s coffers.

Contributing to the debate on a resolution for Sam Lord’s Castle to be vested in Barbados Tourism Investment Inc, Watson said the country had been investing heavily on promotion so the private sector would benefit.

Yet, he contended, the beneficiaries did not contribute sufficiently to the country.

“We spend large sums of money on the promotion of Barbados . . . . It is the only industry I know where the Government spends millions of dollars promoting it and the hoteliers benefit and all those tourism people benefit from it, but don’t contribute significantly to it,” he told the Upper House.

Watson charged that agriculture and manufacturing were not promoted with the same vigour as tourism, therefore, Government needed to maximize its opportunities from that sector.

“There is no large-scale promotion of manufactured products or of agriculture products; not even for the international business sector which is a very important sector for our foreign exchange as well.

“Tourism gets a substantial amount of attention both in terms of human input and in terms of dollars, and therefore we must demand back from that industry substantial returns as well,” Watson said.

The Independent legislator suggested the time had come for the establishment of a special committee to safeguard and grow the country’s foreign reserves, particularly since visitor arrival numbers were rising.

He said with the increase in both cruise and stayover arrivals, every effort should be made to gain as much foreign exchange as possible.

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