Too Little Too Late In The Budget For Tourism: Better Communication Needed Between Government And KEY Stakeholder

Adrian Loveridge – Hotel Owner

For the first few days of her reign, the newly elected President of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, perhaps concluded that she had joined a battle and was undergoing a Baptism of Fire. Perhaps if many of our policymakers took the effort to better understand the tourism industry, they would have been more guarded with what I thought were in some cases rather unfair comments.

Tourism is a lot more, of course, than about a bunch of hoteliers but often it is those same people who sacrifice, freely, enormous amounts of quality and productive time with their families and businesses, while endeavouring to make a positive difference. Two years of attending endless meetings, attempting to juggle with all the vested interests and egos and so often without the resources that other entities seemingly take for granted. And they do this without all the perks, benefits and salaries others receive, including politicians, who in some cases can retire at fifty years of age with a taxpayer pension for life.

Sadly, most of the contentious remarks played out in Parliament and the media could have been entirely avoided with better communication. If the ruling party is seriously considering the possibility of re-election, they may wish to address this issue.

Like any trade association, the BHTA is there to represent its members who contribute significant annual subscription fees, which in a time of eroded profits, inflation apparently out of control and other escalating operational costs, have to be justified, like any other expense. I have no doubt many in the industry, consider that ‘we’ as a destination are now in crisis. You only have to do a little price comparison on the internet to see the amazingly high level of discounting going on in most of our markets, which some concede is the only practical way of keeping the doors open.

While the $5 million additional funds granted to the national marketing agency in the recent budget is welcome, frankly its a drop in the ocean and arguably, too little too late. Again, reflecting the abysmal level of information dissemination between the private and public sector, the majority of the players have no idea how these monies will be spent, or if they simply will evaporate and be used to pay all the yet unfulfilled financial obligations.

In my short time on the BTA board, Return on Investment (ROI), was a frequently used phrase, but this seems to have gone out of the window in more recent times. The current level of anticipated return, seems dismally low. $5 million carefully and creatively deployed, should produce, in my humble opinion, $100 million in earned revenue.

As to the merits of yet another small and medium size hotel refurbishment fund. Unless access to these funds are simplified and available to all our registered properties, the danger is that this new proposed equity scheme will become just more smoke and mirrors.

If you just address our small hotels, of which we have around 120, providing roughly 2,500 rooms, that’s an average of $20,000 per room to upgrade, before allowing for public areas like swimming pools, landscaping etc. Not surprisingly then, the overall amount of $50 million is being questioned.

And finally the moratorium for two periods on land taxes. Very welcome, but why now, when the damage has already be done with the last 50 per cent increase?

0 thoughts on “Too Little Too Late In The Budget For Tourism: Better Communication Needed Between Government And KEY Stakeholder

  1. When someone invests in a hotel, he does so to make money for himself: providing jobs and assisting with national development in never a factor in establishing any business. Fortunately, in some cases, they make money and pay taxes (as little as possible) and all is well with the world. Unfortunately, lots of them in establishing the business would have jumped in at the deep end and without the necessary skills, they go under. My problem with Mr. Loverige and those who make the most noise about the hotel and tourist industries is that they somehow think that it is Government’s responsibility when they don’t have the necessary skills to manage their businesses.

    Hotel owners have failed to set aside any resources for a rainy day because they had it in their heads that Government would always there to bail them out in the national interest. Well I have news for them; Government’s cupboard is almost bare and what is left it there to satisfy the appetites of those who are still waiting for their share of the fatted calf.

  2. Casewell,
    Good point. So do you think Government (s) responsibility is to have the necessary skills to manage the country?
    And if the Government’s cupoard is almost bare, please explain why?
    It certainly isn’t because the hoteliers have be forced to pay all the increased taxes.

    • In countries where manufacturing/farming is King guess what? The industry is heavily subsidized. Look to T&T close by. We cannot have a key industry and the government does not play a leading role given how volatile the industry. Of course we will have those who sponge and this is the nature of the beast.

    • Mr. Loverige

      What is your point? You have not been keeping up. It is well and truly established tha the Government does not have the skills to run a lemonade stand far less this country. Again, what do you mean why the cupboard is bare? The short answer is fatted calf. Haven’t you heard?

  3. Mr. Loveridge

    I am beginning to think that you are no different from the lot of business people bout here who believe that the state should be there at your beck and call. Some of you business people here with your accountants prouce some bogus accounts to either show that the hotel and businesses are making a miniscule profit, or a loss.

    How many of the hotels are willing to put money to assist with the marketing of the indistry. Most of you allow on the govt to spend huge sums to market your property, you pay your workers small wages, you rely on us the comsumers to increase the take home pay of your employees by charging us a surcharge on the services you provide, which I belive is immoral and unjustified, as some of the services stink. I am told that such prastice is illegal in some countries.

    The govt gives and gives and the more the govt gives, the more you call for, according to the bajans you all are a group of avaricious people. Some of You come from over and away, enjoy our hopitality, and then have the gall to speak with forked tongues to insult our leaders, Such behaviour should not be tolerated by barbadains regradless of their political persuation.

    Have you heard the saying better late than never. Regardless of what this adminitration does, the politcal die has been cast by the BHTA, to frustrate and embarrass it as most of the executive are being coached. Look how Colin Jordan hevaed, look at the Das woman, she did not even warm her seat, but release a string of attacks on the govt and its budget. Adrian you have joined the bandwagon, bacause the sector has been promised unrealistic pie, and because of greed, you and the hoteliers seem to belive it. Where the hell Mia is going to get the money to place at your disposal. Why the hell dont the hotel sector look at reducing its energy bill, by using all the the concessions that have been granted.

    Is the hotel industry the only sector that generates employment, can it receive all the benefits, isnt this sector the most highly subsisdised, what perceantage of corporation tax has this sector contributed over the years, and also what percentage the hotel sector contributes towards income tax, why the hotel sector dont establish proper linkages with the argricultural and manufacturing sectors to generate employment, why doesnt the sector contract out some of its services to obtain greater efficiency, among other thinngs?

  4. Sugar was once the top money earner in Barbados, governments have allowed it to disintegrate to just a shadow of itself, Why? Because we recognised too late that we needed to diversify. To day we are planting houses where lovely produced canes grew. The same thing will happen to the hotel industry if government don’t realise that it is the main money earner for barbados and needs to be protected. What we need is a well planned out programme to revitilisae the main industry in barbados TOURISM. Maybe we can ask our neighbours in St Lucia what they are doing, because I seen a gradual increase in tourists and nice hotels in that country over the years. One thing for sure the price of a four (4) star hotel in St. Lucia is cheaper than a small hotel in Barbados. I don’t know if the government is subsidising the industry but if they are , they are getting it back by the amount of spending tourists in that country. Greneda too, is beginning to develop their tourist industry and doing fairly good, while Barbados, who were the leaders in this part of the region are catching our tails. POOR MANAGEMENT on both the government and hotel sectors. Time the bickering stop and they both get serious about our tourist industry The same thing goes for the business industry in barbados, too much bickering among the stakeholders and government.I wonder why this government right now continues to pick at thes industries, they are our life blood right now. the old people always used to say ” when ya han in the lion mout, ya got to tell he how good he is.”.

  5. I have mostly supported Adrian in past blogs (except when it came to RedJet), but from what I know and from what I am reading, hoteliers definitely have an image problem in Barbados, and obviously receive very little sympathy. This is a shame, because everyone, including government must realise that it is not only hoteliers that benefit from tourism. The spin-off and multiplier effect of the toursim spend is huge and there is no denying that when tourism was doing well, Barbados was doing well. When we ask ourselves “Where did it all go wrong?”, the reasons are multiple. We can start with the massive building of condominium-type accommodation, some of it in prime beach locations, allowed in the guise of bringing direct foreign investment. As everyone knows, or should know by now, the benefits of this type of development are very short-lived. Many of these condominiums lie empty for the vast majority of the time, and serve only to provide income for a few maids and gardeners, as well as fatten the wallets of the real estate managers. One wonders what the long-term outcome would be if REAL incentives to invest in hotel accommodation on those same sites had been offered. – incentives that would give hoteliers no excuses as to the amount of support they would be getting, and thereby putting the onus on them to produce. The feedback of revenue in to all parts of the economy, including government, I suggest, would be many times what is generated through condominium development. All this pre-supposes, of course, that honestty and integrity are present, and unfortunately this is not always the case. So hoteliers will probably still keep their foreign exchange earnings in the BVI, and those square pegs selected to fill the round holes in the BTA would still be benefitting from all the overseas trips and freebies without being held in any way accountable for the money they spend. It’s sad, but everywhere I look, I see a society where money that is available for one reason, is sought by all types of people to use for another. In a way, who can blame them when they see the sort of thing that happened at CLICO with no repercussions for the wrongdoers.

  6. Has anyone gotten a whiff og the white paper on tourism? Far less the master plan?

  7. The current government has put initiatives in place to assist hotels including maintaining and increasing its spend on marketing in these tough times. This is no small feat as many departments have had to take budget cuts and many businesses have reduced their marketing budgets.

    While we acknowledge the importance of tourism to our livelihood, the hotel owners must also accept that certain social investments must still be made- health and education which lead to the stable society which in turn attracts the tourists. It is coming across to the average bajan, that the hotel owners want all the concessions without consideration for the importance of other aspects of our society. It might just be a perception.

    What would be nice is to see (just for reference) if there have been any salary reductions among the top executives in these private hotels before they sent home workers or put them on short time.
    Also, maybe the BHTA should publish a list of the payments to hotels from the Tourism Relief Fund which the government established.

    As for the above remark about the government or a particular political having the skills to deal with tourism. I refer to one word – “GEMS” – We certainly do not need to go back to that.

  8. Bring back the money that these guys placed in offshore bank accounts that never made it to the accounts of local hotels the payments for tour operators directed to overseas bank accounts some of which have never gotten to Barbados.

    You know how many and who own property attained from these same hotel operations and where this property is located?

    France, London, Austria, Portugal and New York and Toronto to name only what I know and I am sure that there are others to unknown to myself.

  9. the crabs are trying to claw away at the little money the government has managed to recoover all this bullsh..t galavnized afterthe govt announcing the gains of 1.3bill. the government has limited money and lots of expenditure but It seems that thegreedy among us sees only what is best for themselves and not caring about the rest of the country..MIA has promised the toursit industry 500million of the taxpayers unbeknownest to all how that money is going to be generated

  10. My suggestion to adrian and others that have fallen on hard times is to wait for the promised 500million Since the 5millon is only a drop in the ocean in the mean time keep dreaming since a promise is a comfort to a fool..

  11. The move by the BTA to engage the Scandanavian market was a brilliant move, putting a vice president to concrentrate and focus on the British market as opposed to lumping it with continental Europe- another brilliant move but it seems you cannot please some people no matter how hard you try.

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