Adrian Loveridge Column – Cooking the Golden Goose

This week’s column marks a personal milestone, 520 weekly or ten years submissions amounting to around 260,000 words and entirely dedicated to a single subject, tourism.

The objective was never to suggest that there is any one particular ‘holy grail’ solution to the challenges that continually face the industry, either in good times, let alone the unprecedented demanding current period, but more to throw out questions and ideas that may encourage our decision makers to take all possible considerations into account, before formulating policies.

In my humble view, the single biggest present obstacle standing in the way of short to medium tourism recovery is the perceived or real lack of travel confidence in all our traditional markets.

Potential visitors are still reticent to sit on a plane for up to nine hours until they are absolutely sure, there is little or no risk of being infected by Covid-19.

Until mandatory pre-flight testing is a universal requirement, whatever we do at a local level is going to be at least partially negatively impacted.

Secondly, rumours abound across the social media arena that at least one or more major tour operators have cancelled all previously booked package holidays to Barbados for the rest of this year.

Attempts to seek clarification from those companies regrettably have met with no response and until they make it absolutely clear that this is not the case, speculation will linger.

We must also move away, at least for the next few months, from our dependency of being primarily a travel trade driven destination.

A higher percentage of direct bookings could well aid economic recovery, both at an individual property and national level.

A whole combination of events has led to an all-time low in the travelling public’s confidence and trust in sections of the operator and airline companies.

These include the ongoing delay in refunding holidays and flights booked prior to the pandemic, particular tour operators who have delayed payment to hotels and other accommodation providers for stays already completed and continued uncertainty regarding the restoration of airlift.

The return of British Airways on a daily Heathrow service is very encouraging from October, but incredibly disappointing, that it appears, neither of the two involved Governments have lowered or eliminated excessive taxes on the fares, including the United Kingdom Advanced Passenger Duty (APD) plus both VAT and not one but two departure taxes in the case of Barbados.

Of course, ‘we’ have not been told about any possible taxpayer seat subsidies that the airline may have negotiated, to ensure viable capacity, so this may have some bearing on ‘our’ Government’s decision.

One day, our policymakers will have to finally realize that there are only just so many ways you can extract taxes from potential visitors, even in ‘normal’ times, let alone during a prolonged recession across all major markets.

If price deters people travelling to a certain destination, then Government clearly cannot collect VAT, room and all the other levies on a stay that does not actually takes place.

Our population is not naïve enough to understand that post Pandemic they are going to have to pay for all the measures that have been put in place during Covid-19 through increased tax collection.

But let us not cook the golden goose before they even reach here.

33 comments

  • That goose is already cooked. Read Peter Lawrence Thompson or provide a more compelling argument. A house of Cards cannot fill bellies. In spite of the lure of jobs held out to the government and people of Barbados, tourism as practiced here is just not up to the job needed. A net user of foreign exchange at the mercy of tour companies and now shamefully begging government to pay the costs of permanently firing long serving, long suffering employees,. Government is well advised to continue the search for more sustainable employment for its citizens.

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  • All minority-haters on the island, such as the radical Presscott, must finally understand that tourists and expats are the main contributors to our gross national product. Without these groups, our gross national product is an estimated 5000 dollars per capita – less than in many African countries.

    Those who are now dreaming of “diversification” should finally recognize that Barbadians are unsuitable for hard work on the plantation today, that we have no IT industry and that exports are almost zero due to excessive taxes.

    So is there a solution that will allow Barbadians to continue to live an effortless life at the expense of creditors? No. It would be the first time since the ill-fated declaration of independence that the inhabitants of the plantation called Barbados would have to face reality: wages in Barbados are far too high, work morale is poor, imports of work equipment are far too expensive and there are possibly more public servants than private employees – these are extremely difficult conditions for a sustainable economic recovery.

    Liked by 3 people

  • Sometimes you jest, but quite often your words are brutally/painfully frank and correct.

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  • Adrian is right, any sane thinking person knows that someone is going to have to pay for this virus and it isn’t the poor. No the middleclass will bare the brunt as usual in the way of increased property taxes vat income taxes etc.. I ran into a friend walking yesterday a world traveler and we talked about travel in the near and foreseeable future and we both have put all immediate travel on hold and have seen a definite change in attitude of many people we know. Firstly covid has slowed everything down the hustle and chase for the almighty dollar has been replaced with more time to relax with family and friends a lot more day to day fun than that 2 week party vacation every year. Starting to explore our own country with encouragement from the govt. for staycations with no fear of being trapped somewhere if the virus returns our china lets another one get loose appeals to many old people. Second money is tight that new car every two years might be five, the addition on the house may have to wait, maybe the kids aren’t to eager to leave the nest but many people are starting to like drinking and eating at home or day trips with family and friends even if they don’t have to. very similar to Bajans. So money and visitors are going to shrink for a lot of places so best get all the players together get a real strategy and remember there is only so many billionaires and millionaires to go around.

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  • @lawson

    A useful comment.

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  • First out the box are the UWI fees increase.
    Wheel and come again lawson
    The poor have already been stretch to the limit
    High bills. Fees and taxes out of reach of their limited income
    Not to mention govt shameful borrowing on a Mickey mouse plan called. Boss
    Oh btw some of them govt workers have mortgages and property taxes to pay

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  • The poor are always stretched to the limit, covid is actually better for them at least in canada but I think barbados must be similar, Cerb has given them an increase in money per month and lets face it they are not paying it back . There are two things that happened during the black death one the price of housing came down because there wasn’t that many people that needed it and two the minimum wage went up because the rich still needed people to work and there wasn’t many of them around so pandemics in some ways benefit the poor. A lot of housing and schooling for the poor is subsidized so please dont try and say people of limited means are paying for everything it is just stupid. The middle class carries the load

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  • Unlike Canada financial support from government is not sustainable.

    >

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  • Mari, UWI fees ain’t got nothing to do with the government.

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  • The notion of airline universal testing is a non-starter. For Barbados to reinvigorate its tourism industry the following has to be done.
    Remove the MANDATORY isolation of tourists (as well as Bajans) if they catch the Covid Cold. I already know of many individuals and couples who have cancelled plans to come to Barbados. Nobody wishes to have the sceptre of going to a Government Isolation facility hanging over their heads when on vacation. Barbados, Australia and New Zealand are the only countries in the world currently doing this and all are at ZERO when it comes to tourism. For those people who believe that tourists will choose Barbados because of its beauty they are out to lunch. Current popular vacation spots such as the entire EU region, the USA (and yes Las Vegas and Florida are booming) Jamaica and Antigua allow you to arrive without the prospect of ending up in an isolation camp for your vacation.

    Secondly Barbados needs to educate the public on the true dangers of Covid. This is not a “deadly virus” as the Nation and Barbados Today refer to in every article. They surely don’t write the “deadly pneumonia” or “deadly influenza” or even the “deadly HIV” when referring to those. This fear mongering has to stop. There are now 8 months of known history and results of Covid. The facts are the facts, 99% of deaths have been in 80+ year olds with 2.7 comorbidities. Between 50-85% of deaths have been in long term care homes depending on which country you examine. Covid is not killing 30 year old accountants or 40 year old bartenders or 23 year old UWI students.
    The government of Barbados has to inform the public of the reality that Covid is here to stay, that even after a vaccine is ever invented there will still be a risk of dying from Covid – as hundreds of thousands die annually from the Flu to which we have multiple vaccines. In conjunction with such an education campaign the notion of isolating Covid cases has to stop. I surmise that this re-education is already starting as every day the GIS reports a new Covid case they highlight the fact that the individual is asymptomatic. Again showing that Covid is common cold to 99% of those who catch it, and guess what, we have all caught it already or will catch it. Isolation, quarantine or lockdown none of this will stop it from happening.

    Not until Tourism Barbados puts up a notice that you are free to come and enjoy your vacation in Barbados, where we have a robust health care system to protect you not just against Covid, but the Flu, bacterial infection, broken arms/wrists/legs or even a heart attack will we see a resurgence of tourists coming to the island.

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  • Not true at all. COVID is not the common cold. Less people are dying because there is now a greater understanding of how to treat it.

    Now that treatment has improved it is feasible to open up more. Mask wearing etc. should suffice. Vulnerable people should limit their contacts.

    Tron,

    Most Bajans are not minority haters. They are minority racist haters. If the minorities are cool with us we are cool with them.

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  • Correction – fewer people are dying

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  • @ Lawson August 24, 2020 10:43 AM

    Well articulated. reality is evident, no ifs and buts.

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  • @Ricardo at 3:38 p.m. “as every day the GIS reports a new Covid case they highlight the fact that the individual is asymptomatic. Again showing that Covid is common cold to 99% of those who catch it.”

    This is NOT true. If you wish to advance an argument you should first start with the TRUTH.
    I am not a scientist, but the people at Johns Hopkins University are. I checked their site moments ago and this is the truth. Covid is not common cold to 99% of people who catch it. These are the % of people who caught covid and died. This number does not include the thousands of people who needed to be EXPENSIVELY hospitalized:

    Yemen 28.9% died
    Italy 13.7% died
    U.K 12.7% died
    Belgium 12.2% died
    Hungary 11.9% died
    France 10.9% died
    Mexico 10.85 died
    Netherlands 9.1% died
    Chad 7.7% died

    @Ricardo at 3:38 p.m. “Not until Tourism Barbados puts up a notice that you are free to come and enjoy your vacation in Barbados, where we have a robust health care system to protect you not just against Covid, but the Flu, bacterial infection, broken arms/wrists/legs or even a heart attack.”

    Our health care system is good, but not so good that if covid19 runs rampant that we will have the capacity to care for all of the visitors and all of the residents who may need to be hospitalized, and if we cannot care for our visitors and they start dying on our hands how to we live down that?

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  • So this is what the death rates are in the countries from which our visitors come:
    United Kingdom 12.7% died
    Canada 7.2% died
    U.S.A. 3.1% died
    Antigua 3.2% died
    Trinidad & Tobago 1.4% died
    Jamaica 1% died

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  • When I see something like this
    “For Barbados to reinvigorate its tourism industry the following has to be done.
    Remove the MANDATORY isolation of tourists (as well as Bajans) if they catch the Covid Cold”

    I stop reading

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  • These are the countries which have a COVID19 mortality rate of 1% or less:

    Oman
    Kuwait
    Bahrain
    Israel
    Qater
    Belarus
    Costa Rica
    Maldives
    United Arab Emirates
    Iceland
    West Bank and Gaza
    Gabon
    Namibia
    Malta
    Belize
    Venezuela
    Ghana
    Uzbekistan
    Tajikstan
    Jamaica
    Nepal
    Singapore
    Guinea
    Jordan
    Rwanda
    Mozambique
    Sri Lanka
    Uganda

    Every where else Covid19 has been killing sick people at 3, 4, 10, 12, more than 25 times the rate of your FICTIONAL 1%

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  • And besides the isolation center is not so bad. An American who stayed with me last year [one of my young people wuk-up crew, lol!!!] was isolated a few weeks ago and she said that she was treated very, very well.

    I want to see return to normalcy as much as anybody else, but sadly these are not normal times. i know that some people believe that we elders with pre existing conditions should de’d and ga long and stop bothering the young people. But we elders are also lab technicians, nurses, doctors, hotel owners, hoteliers, barmen, waitresses,housekeepers, baby sitters, and often the care givers for elementary school children so that the young parents can go to work. And care givers for the old-old so that middled aged people can continue to go to work.

    We too help to make the wheels of the economy go ’round.

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  • Another phenomena that is happening up here is a lot of people are working from home a lot of people want to get out of the high end condos so they can cocoon away from others ,not getting stuck on elevators not being able to use the gym or pool in the building makes them less desirable. So single family or semi-detach prices have shot up. In the space of a year my buddy’s house shot up 300 grand in 2 years which he was all excited about but this is exactly what I was talking about, so he sells it but now has to move farther from the area where he is to put that money in his pocket. Now because a couple of those sales happen in the area the tax people up everyone’s evaluations because that 300 grand is 3000 in yearly property tax as I said the middle class is gonna pay one way or the other. Another consequence is the old age pensioner who has been living there for years is taxed out of his home because of the property evaluation sure gets a whack of cash when he sells but has to go into a home which syphons it off, live with family who syphon it off puts it in the bank at no interest but anyway you look at it he ends up worse off .

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  • Cudhear keep in mind barbados targets the rich, I dont know if Gander…sorry Drake or Rihanna would consider them 5 star

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  • @Lawson August 24, 2020 6:21 PM

    I can’t believe that for once I am agreeing with lawson.

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  • Went to Sandy Lane beach last week, that is a 5 star beach for sure. There were only about 10 people there which was good for my family’s enjoyment, but I know bad for the tourism industry, and Barbados’ economy. But is was a super nice afternoon.

    We ALL need a covid19 test that is quick, cheap and accurate.

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  • The airlines are vested in finding solutions, thousands of planes parked are on aprons all over .

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  • @Adrian
    A higher percentage of direct bookings could well aid economic recovery, both at an individual property and national level.

    I completely agree 100% and again make a call for a National reservation/Booking center to be started that portrays all accommodation & ancillary services.

    To those who preach doom and gloom for the tourism industry, I suggest that you listen to David Ellis on Brass Tacks yesterday when he called for less negativity and more creative and innovative thinking to bring us out of the economic mire.

    Let us not be bogged down with what is happening today with covid-19 right now. Let us instead plan for a bright future for Barbados as a continued reputable tourism destination after the pandemic.

    I believe in the saying “God helps those who help themselves” It is time that we took the important decision to see how we can control our tourism industry by going directly to the clients. This is relevant especially at a time when they are suspicious of tour operators that still have not refunded them their money. The world is changing. Let us not only change with it but shape the direction to our benefit.

    The first step is a National reservation/Booking center headquartered in Barbados and active in the UK & USA.
    Setting this up is easy. I am not the only one that can share a structured plan for setting this up with a plan which will include how, where, staffing, marketing etc.

    I hope that the BHTA membership will see this as a positive concept and be on board with others that are not their members.

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  • @cuhdearbajan I don’t know if you are mocking or being serious. Your death rates that you list there are case fatality rates which are NOT at all an accurate measure of the lethality of Covid. The real number is one that is based on incidence fatality rates. I am sure you know this as your argument as wrong as it is, was eloquent. Just using the USA as and Example, the CDC has estimated that the true Covid Infection rate is at a minimum 10x and up to 20x greater than the actual documented Cases. Thus lets take the middle ground as 15x. 5.7 million positive cases x 15 equals 85,500,000 people have actually had Covid. Of that you have your 177,000 deaths, divided into 85.5 million gives us a true fatality rate of 0.207%. Therefore Covid is NOT more lethal than the Normal Seasonal Flu as it has a fatality rate of 0.1-0.2%, and in fact I stand corrected Covid is thus not lethal to 99.8% of people who are infected.

    When it comes to rapid testing, the CDC just yesterday recommended NOT randomly testing asymptomatic people (i.e. people with no symptoms who they just test) and focusing all testing on symptomatic people and people in high risk settings or cohorts. Thus again we have the CDC throwing out the notion that you should be testing every living and walking human for covid because it is not helpful in any way.

    On a last note, every single public health organization and figure has stated the Covid is here to stay. It is not evaporating into oblivion, it is going to be infecting people just as the flu does for the next 10,000 years. A vaccine will limit it but the flu has a vaccine and hundreds of thousands die annually. Therefore a government has to decide what is their acceptable level of Covid. Does Barbados truly believe there should be ZERO covid and they plan on testing every incoming individual (with the threat of covid isolation if sick) for the next 50 years? They don’t test for any Flu virus, malaria, dengue, zika – thus they have accepted these diseases can circulate and sicken and kill people. Covid is no different, a reasonable level headed plan that doesn’t involve locking up anyone who catches the Covid cold has to be implemented. Zero cases is in no way an option.

    Until the isolation facility is shut down and government steps and truly welcomes visitors as France and Italy do now without the threat of being locked up, tourism will be close to zero and Barbados will have to learn to live with the current 40% unemployment rate which I think we can all agree is much more dangerous than any virus.

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  • @ Andrew Nehaul August 25, 2020 3:08 AM

    “National reservation/Booking center”

    So you still want ANOTHER state tourism organization. And who will pay for that? The local taxpayers? The tourists who are already being exploited excessively?

    It is always the same: In the past, Barbadians always called the massa “plantation owner” in case of problems, since 1966 the massa “state”.

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  • @Adrian
    @Andrew Nehaul
    @ Tron
    I concur 100% that a Barbados National Booking Engine covering all types of accommodation and ancillary services is required to generate visitor traffic. Currently exploring It technology for such a facility as I am fully aware of requirements for establishing same on island. No taxpayers funds involved.

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  • Positive tourism news
    The disclosure by the Deputy Chief Immigration Officer that 12 people already residing here have been given the green light of approval to work remotely from within our country, under the Welcome Stamp initiative, is positive news. It is a good start to what we hope will be a successful programme.
    We have often declared that tourism is our business, and recent events have proven that assertion beyond doubt. But given the ongoing COVID-19 fallout, we must become innovative and really get down to the business of tweaking our tourism product, given changes in the way people can now work remotely. The death of distance flowing in the wake of the technological revolution has permanently changed most aspects of our lives.
    If ever there was a paradigm shift in the way we all relate to each other socially and otherwise, COVID-19 has provided a classic necessity to get real and to cut and contrive, if only temporarily. We now have to market our tourism in new ways that appeal to changed attitudes on the part of those high-flyers who can work from any part of the world that has reliable connections with the major capitals of this globe.
    Technology has proven John Donne right. No man is indeed an island – certainly not in 2020, if ever. COVID-19 has shown that we are not isolated.
    This virus, which started halfway or more across the world, has spread like wildfire, changed the global economic landscape and has struck a severe blow to our domestic economic efforts to get back on track.
    The stakes are high, and our country is being sorely tested.
    The social safety net is under stress from National Insurance unemployment claims. The numbers of workers quickly made unemployed are staggering.
    The Government has kept a steady hand on the wheel and the timely renegotiation of the primary balance (surplus) with the International Monetary Fund is a tribute to astute thinking and keen economic foresight of a high order. We are currently running a one per cent surplus, down from the original six per cent, with our consultants and technocrats keeping keen eyes to further change from surplus to deficit if the situation warrants.
    Continued consistency in that approach will build and maintain investor confidence that we will turn the corner and regain much of the ground we so rapidly lost earlier this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
    Issues of sexual orientation have somehow raised their head, and while we have every respect for those critical of some of the language in the enabling legislation, that has been changed. We must not become enmeshed in fighting harmful battles that may no longer exist.
    As a country, we must be mature enough to discuss sensitive issues with reasoned passion. We must not forget the lesson of the misguided cadaver scare tactics which torpedoed the establishment of a medical school at the former St Joseph’s Hospital building in the mid-1980s. Indeed, 20/20 vision has shown us the major error of our ways at that time, which was regrettably detrimental to our national plans to extend our service economy.
    This Welcome Stamp initiative is marketing our tourism directly at a key niche market. We have had 1 079 applications submitted from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, as well as Nigeria and India. This spread of applications after the policy went live in July suggests there is a keen demand.
    We must give it our best efforts!

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  • Oh lord david stop gloating on that gimmicky news
    That kind of gimmick not going to pull barbados households out of the dark days of poverty
    Moreover the short term of that gimmick simply tries to hold the hands of a failing tourism industry and is a drop in the bucket for govt revenue
    Govt is avoiding do what is possible and realistic by stimulating the economy by way of putting the spending power in the hands of the people Now
    Implementing policies that will ensure that the local economy can survive these Covid times

    Liked by 1 person

  • Thank you @Ricardo for making the point that case fatality rates quoted by @CuhdearBajan are not a useful measure at all to assess how lethal Covid-19 is, or is not. It seems to me that very many people want this disease to be worse than it is, probably to justify the harsh and repressive measures that governments (and individuals) have taken to avoid infection – a case of burning the house down to get rid of a mouse.

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  • Bleak outlook for Caribbean tourism workers
    The International Labour Organisation (ILO) is warning that almost half a million Caribbean tourism workers face the prospect of decent work deficits in the form of job losses, reductions in working hours, and loss of incomes, while the worsening of working conditions and the move to informal employment appear as a concrete possibility.
    In a new publication titled “Tourism Sector in the Englishand Dutch-speaking Caribbean: An overview and the impact of COVID-19 on Growth and Employment, the ILO described as significant and far-reaching the reduction in the Caribbean tourism industry workforce due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
    Prolonged recovery
    The ILO also noted that recovery from the adverse impact on sector jobs could be prolonged by a reversal in economic growth, and called for a human-centred approach to resilient and sustainable solutions.
    The report included ILO guidance and data, as well as research conducted around the region to demonstrate the severity of the crisis on the sector’s labour market.
    It noted that on average, the tourism industry directly contributed up to about 33 per cent of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) and more than 52 per cent of export receipts. With approximately 30 million annual entries per year – the majority of which are cruise passengers, or from the US – the industry provided direct employment to 413 000 workers in the Caribbean.
    The ILO said this figure represented, on average, 18.1 per cent of total employment and that if indirect and induced employment was considered, such figures could rise to 43.1 per cent.
    “While Caribbean labour force data is not yet available to determine exactly how tourism workers have been affected by the crisis thus far, studies conducted by regional organisations and preliminary national administrative data, however, have begun to paint a picture of what is happening,” says Lars Johansen, the acting director, ILO Decent Work Team and Office for the Caribbean.
    For example, reduced sample surveys indicated that 71 per cent of hotels had laid off staff by April 2020 to address the revenue shortfall caused by the crisis; about 66 per cent had also reduced the work-week or hours worked; and 53 per cent had cut salaries.
    The ILO said that national-level data from Jamaica indicated that during the (relative) peak of the crisis, layoffs reached about 75 per cent of the total tourism workforce with the remaining 25 per cent working only two or three days a week at a reduced rate of compensation.
    In Belize, 30 per cent of the total beneficiaries of stimulus relief belonged to the tourism sector. These affected workers included tour guides, wait staff, kitchen staff, those in guest/ customer services, housekeeping, and maintenance and upkeep.
    Workers directly employed by businesses that rely on cruise tourism were likely to be most affected because of the delayed reopening of that part of the sector.
    The ILO said tourism was traditionally a labour-intensive industry with a higher than average multiplier effect on employment in other sectors, for example, agriculture, food processing, construction, transport, as reflected by indirect employment figures.
    “The industry tends to benefit vulnerable categories of workers experiencing disadvantage in the labour market such as youth, women and migrants and, more generally, is capable of absorbing workers with limited skill levels,” the ILO notes, adding that a rise in informal employment among workers in the tourism sector who have been affected by the crisis is also a concern and may lead to exclusion from work-related social protection measures.
    Multi-pronged approaches In terms of government responses across the Caribbean, the ILO noted that most countries had taken multipronged approaches such as direct transfers for individuals and loans, grants and tax relief for businesses.
    “Special attention should be placed on dismissed workers to ensure the shortest and most productive spans of labour market detachment through measures aimed to enhance their human capital such as upskilling and retraining.
    “For the coming months or years, while the principles underlined in the ILO policy framework for tackling the economic and social impact of the COVID-19 crisis should lead any human-centred recovery process, few key elements stand out. In line with the already developed country and industry-specific protocols for the resumption of activities, occupational health and safety for workers and customers will remain paramount,” the ILO added.
    “I’m confident that the tourism that emerges from COVID-19 will be different from the tourism that we have grown used to. And the key difference will be significant integration of tourism and health functions to ensure the safety and health of visitors and locals alike,” says Neil Walters, Acting Secretary-General of the Barbadosbased Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO).
    The ILO said there was also room for more sustainable recovery mechanisms such as positioning the tourism sector to lead the green and blue economic transition and job creation, which can be pursued through tripartite social dialogue between governments, employers’ organisations and workers’ organisations.
    Barbados’ Coco Hill Forest, an eco-tour destination that connects tourism with regenerative agriculture and organic farming, was one example of how the region’s sector is adapting to a sustainable green economy. Staff at the 53-acre property offer hiking treks, group planting activities and farm-to-table dining.
    “By creating alternative interpretations of what tourism and its employment can be for Barbados, we can create linkages with other sectors – in this case agriculture and food security. We have had lots of local supporters and foreign guests, and have been selected as one of Trip Advisor’s Traveller’s Choice Winners for 2020,” says Mahmood Patel, owner of Coco Hill Forest.

    Source: Nation Newspaper

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  • It is very easy to generate new jobs. However, our government would have to imprison or deport the bishops, union leaders and all other clerical fascists and rebels.

    If our government would be brave enough, we could create at least 20000 new jobs within a short time with cannabis cultivation, prostitution, gambling, child labor and other alternative industries.

    Better to work than to starve.

    Like

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