Adrian Loveridge Column – Over to You Minister Lisa Cummins
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the British Government’s Eat Out to Help Out promotion that initially was being offered on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 3rd through to the 31st August.
Almost a week before ‘last orders’ under the offer is due to expire, over 64 million meals have already been served at more than 50,000 restaurants, pubs and other eating establishments across the United Kingdom.
So far, there have been 34 million searches by 13 million unique users on the official Eat Out to Help Out restaurant finder which uses postcodes to locate participating eateries in any given area.
Not surprisingly, many in the catering industry and trade associations are now calling for a further one month extension, taking it through September, before the employee furlough subsidy is scheduled to end in October.
Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of UK Hospitality, which represents pubs and restaurants throughout England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland stated ‘the scheme has been a huge success for the sector. Our members have been reporting a very-welcome boost in trade, when it was needed most’. Adding ‘the scheme has not just benefited businesses commercially it appears to have really boosted consumer confidence as well, which is just as important’.
While the following observations may go down badly in certain circles, we seem to be constantly reading various utterings about the need to restructure the entire tourism industry on Barbados. Yet few, if any, policies appear to have been put in place to stimulate the sector, in which ‘we’ place so much reliance on now? I can only conclude that those proffering advice on restructuring do not really understand our industry and their immediate needs, which could result in a devastating consequence for any hope of its survival in the short to middle term.
Restructuring does not take place overnight in any sector and in our case, what does it really mean anyway?
Demolishing scores of existing hotels, villas, apartments and the hundreds of extra rooms created by small independent owners that have been persuaded to provide them for rental, through companies like Airbnb?
And what about the various proposed new-build accommodation projects that have yet to show significant progress?
This will be my final impassioned plea to Government to consider launching a national domestic tourism initiative that would be supported, not just by the tourism partners, but by all elements of the private sector that have a vested interest, including food and beverage suppliers, wholesalers and financial service providers that embraced credit and debit card issuers.
Even a low-cost ‘ad’ campaign through local social media and radio might just make a significant enough difference to keeping some of our ‘make or break’ restaurants open and staff employed. Failing to introduce such an incentive into Barbados later than September will run the plausible risk that many of our tourism entities will simply not survive intact until there are real signs of fiscal recovery later this year or into 2021.
Otherwise the danger is that the much vaunted discussion on restructuring will quickly turn into a major plan for possible rebuilding, and that could realistically take decades.