Concessions can’t be piecemeal, says new BHTA chair

Tourism players are focused on accessing the full slate of concessions that have been granted under the revised Tourism Development Act.

This was the outlined by newly elected Chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Roseann Myers, during a recent interview with Loop News.

She was commenting on how indigenous hotels are preparing for the entry of more international hotel brands into the Barbados market, such as the Wyndham and the Hyatt.

“From a marketing point a view, an international brand will have an advantage because of the sheer size. Certainly one thing we can do is ensure that we are all operating from the same base when it comes to costs – which means the fact that we’ve been very slow on the concessions has put us at a disadvantage,” she said.

“We’re doing this thing piecemeal, but this is not a piecemeal industry… that works out fine if you have the time. We don’t have the time. And it’s already been several months.”

Pointing to the shakeup caused by the recent Brexit vote, Myers added that tourism is a fast-paced industry, where conditions can change overnight.

She emphasised that there was a need to improve systems to expedite the process of fully accessing the legislated concessions:

“We (hoteliers and public sector) have not been able to come up with a system that allows us to be nimble to get things through the process quickly and that is what we need to do in order to compete with these bigger brands who will come in with a number of incentives and probably will come in with an ability to get their stuff through very quickly.

“So the indigenous brands will be under a little bit of pressure, but if we can get the concessions as have been legislated put in place now, I think we will be on a much more level playing field.”

In September 2015, it was announced that the concessions for proteins had been entered into the Customs system, thus allowing hotels to apply for duty-free concessions for meats and fish.

However, at the BHTA’s June 2016 Annual General Meeting, Immediate past Chairman of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association, Sunil Chatrani in his final report noted that the progress of accessing duty-free concessions is enormously tedious and often disadvantageous to hoteliers.

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