Tuesday 1 December, 2020

BEST $150 million spent: UK 2nd lockdown will not crush B'dos tourism

British Airways repatriation flight at Barbados' Grantley Adams International Airport when commercial flights were grounded due to COVID-19. (FILE)

British Airways repatriation flight at Barbados' Grantley Adams International Airport when commercial flights were grounded due to COVID-19. (FILE)

Barbados braces as second wave forces England - a major source market for tourists, to consider lockdown for four weeks.

Prime Minister Mia Mottley admits that a British lockdown to manage the spike in COVID-19 cases there would deliver a striking blow to Barbados' economy as Barbados was already registering weekly commercial flights into Grantley Adams International Airport from that market.

However, she says that Barbados will pivot and has means of countering this latest development 

Speaking at a mass meeting, the Leader of Barbados said:

Mottley said that, "even though the news from Prime Minister Boris Johnson came yesterday [October 31] and it was not what we wanted to hear, believe you-me, because it means that unless people are travelling for work, they are not going to be able to travel for the next month. There are some hotels in Barbados that will be affected." 

Therefore, she said that government is not waiting to feel the impact but has already put plans in place.

She said:

"We still getting people from the USA. We still getting people from Canada. We will still get the Welcome Stamp Programme that everybody is copying after Barbados, and nothing wrong with that because flattery is best reflected in imitation. Imitation is the best form of flattery. But the point that I want to make to you, is that we are now in a position to withstand that blow from England because of the recommendation of Toni Moore and the Barbados Workers' Union with the Job Support Scheme in the BEST (Barbados Economic and Sustainable Transformation) programme."

Not only has the government accepted it this recommendation from the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) St George North candidate Moore, but Mottley went to say that wheels are in motion keep people employed in the tourism sector.

"And our government, darling, listen to muh, our government say we have to find de money to help de hotels employ de people because we know that if they don't get help de hotels gine fall and close, but more importantly when de people ready to come back to Barbados in duh large numbers you have to make sure that people have bathrooms that working, that de tiles at the hotels ain't blow, that de place look a certain way, that when yuh open doors, and some of them opened today, that they welcome people in a hotel that functioning and look good.

"So that we took a decision to take up $150 million on top of $125 million that we have already spent in unemployment benefits. You understand what I just tell you? That this country, this little country in an IMF programme took $125 million and put it there and because Toni Moore and others came and talked with us, we put a job support programme in place now for two years [to improve our hotel staff]."

Workers will come on at 80 per cent of salary, but as Mottley stressed, though it is not 100 per cent, it is more than the 60 per cent they are claiming while at home by way of unemployment benefits.

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