The Adrian Loveridge Column – Government Ministers Flying Economy
If the reporting is factually correct, then all of us should warmly welcome the recent announcement by Prime Minister, Mia Mottley, stating that ‘the country’s tourism sector is about to become a level playing field when it comes to concessions granted for food and beverage importation’.
Adding ‘she had tasked Minister of Tourism, Kerrie Symmonds, to eradicate the bureaucratic unevenness faced by local hotels seeking clearance for the granting of concessions under the Tourism Development Act (Amended)’.
The second verbatim quotation raises a few concerns. Will this new policy only relate to hotels, or will it also apply to our stand-alone restaurants?
Our several dining options enjoy a good reputation and it would be a terrible shame to disadvantage them now.
The reason for requesting indisputable clarification will be critical to our post Brexit British market, especially with Easter falling late in April next year.Traditionally the bulk of overseas holidays are booked in the days immediately following Christmas, at least in the UK.
With the continued unpredictability surrounding the negative effects of Brexit, compounded by higher mortgage interest rates and a 30 year low value of Sterling against the US$. These factors will all play a huge part for those deciding which destination may offer the best value-for-money.
It also raises the question whether our policymakers and planners have put in place a contingency committee or group to carefully study and help mitigate any potential negative implications that may be caused by Brexit.
Are ‘we’ for instance looking at any possible reduction in airlift or the impact of the loss of EU261 which currently guarantees compensation for delayed flights operated by the current European Union member state airlines?
On a flight recently to Miami, it was particularly refreshing to witness at least two Government Ministers, including the Minister of Tourism and a Senator, seated in economy class.
And heartening later to read that it was a new Government mandate that Ministers, Permanent Secretaries and officers of a regulated grade would now fly economy on all flights of four hours or less and business class above a four hour duration. In actuality, this only covers direct nonstop flights to Florida and Panama. In hindsight it might have attracted far more credibility to have extended this to five hours, therefore including New York (area), Boston, Toronto, Montreal and Charlotte.
I also hope that this token move is taken a step further, by ensuring that all Government travel business including flights, accommodation and sustenance is paid for by designated credit or debit cards, which could earn those valuable frequent flyer miles or points ensuring further reductions in overall taxpayer spend and greater transparency of expenses.
Regular readers will know that I am a long standing and strong advocate of airline and hotel loyalty schemes and their associated benefits. As an example my recent connection flight from Barbados to Heathrow cost US$52.90 plus miles.
Just as our more innovative banks have devised credit cards that earn users additional cash back rewards, there is no reason why this preferred method of payment could not substantially bring down the overall net cost to Government.
Especially, when you factor in the increased number of Ministry portfolios, which will without doubt, create even more conceivably immoderate travel opportunities.