BHTA welcomes proposals

Generally positive.

That’s how the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) is describing areas in the 2016 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals that speak directly to the tourism sector.

BHTA Chairman Roseanne Myers welcomed the clarification of the Tourism Development Act (TDA) requirement for importing items for refurbishment, based on need rather than at specific time periods.

“ . . .the Association thanks the Government for listening to our pleas in this regard and commits to continuing our close working relationship with Customs and the Barbados Revenue Authority (BRA) in order to improve efficiency and clarify difficult areas,” Myers was quoted as saying in a release from the hospitality organization.

The BHTA Chairman also lauded the new tourism capital investment of $600 million over four years, describing it as “a testament to the fact that the local tourism sector, over the last 64 years, has sustained the Barbados brand to ensure that it remains attractive to new investment”.

She said the not for profit private sector tourism trade association’s “unrelenting fight to fully realize the incentives and concessions” would continue.

Additionally, the BHTA strongly believes that the $900 million earned from the sector could be further enhanced if the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs and the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA) sought to provide standards and earn tax revenue from the 3,000 rooms currently listed on online marketplaces such as Airbnb, Couch Surf and HomeAway.

“This new phenomenon, known as the shared economy, perhaps explains why hotel occupancies in 2015 for example, were five per cent up year on year versus the 13.9 per cent recorded for air arrivals,” the BHTA stated in the release.

As it relates to the new National Social Responsibility Levy, the hospitality grouping said it was concerned over the possible effect this would have on small businesses.

Additionally, it said the imposition of the two per cent tax would likely have a negative impact on direct tourism services “already burdened with no incentives but high VAT [Value Added Tax] of 17.5 per cent”.

The BHTA said the $5 million dollars allocated for de-bushing and cleanup of the country was “a good start” and a catalyst to the private sector to contribute to this effort.

“Similarly, funds allocated to the hospital and sanitation services will be money well spent but will need to be properly managed and sustained,” Myers added.

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