Hoteliers: We just want our concessions

The BHTA is pleased with the 2016 Budget but wants outstanding duty-free concessions addressed.

The 2016 Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals has gained the favour of some organisations with the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) being one of them.

During a panel discussion this morning held by the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry and PricewaterhouseCoppers (PwC), Chairman of the BHTA, Roseanne Myers, said she was generally pleased with the budget presentation but that the BHTA still wants what was promised to them.

Myers was referring to the outstanding concessions that were promised to hoteliers over two years ago which, she said, they have been jumping through hoops to try to secure.

“The truth is that the things that were granted to the tourism sector about two years before, if we can get those, we would be happy with nothing else being added to the Budget.

We are talking specifically about the duty-free concessions and the legislation and also to treat tourism as an export sector and try not to tax tourism to the point where you are uncompetitive and where you cannot refurbish. We found that legislation to be one of the most far-reaching in the history of tourism in Barbados.

So the fact that we have not been able to implement it as it is written and to get the full benefit two years after the fact is a little disappointing. I’m happy to report that we have made a lot of progress in trying to interpret the legislation on the ground level. In order to get the concessions you have to run to about 10 different agencies, from pillar to post and back. We’ve identified about four or five of those steps that you can cut out.”

Myers also said she was particularly pleased with the expanded Special Development Areas for tourism investment, but she recommended:

“I would want to see a study done on the carrying capacity of the coastline area - how much more development and how should we balance that development? Also, is there not an opportunity to do a Special Development Area outside of the coastline area? That is perhaps something that the environmentalists need to look at.”

Myers also said that the duty-free zones outlined in the proposals, while attractive, posed some uncertainty as to how they will be operated. However, she hopes the Barbados Tourism Investment Inc. will take full advantage of their invitation to be part of the Special Committee to iron out these details. She also applauded the Finance Minister for amending the Tourism Development Act to ensure that property owners who wish to refurbish are able to access concessions based on need instead of at timed intervals. 

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