While there have been a very few notable exceptions, I believe there is a great deal more our local based companies could do to ‘smart partner’ and create joint promotions to help stimulate our tourism economy.
Those exceptions include one of our banks offering cash back on credit card usage which accumulates during the year and eventually paid back to individual’s accounts each November. Recently a leading wine merchant partnered with a popular south coast restaurant on its re-opening and during an entire month offered a small discount with a complimentary glass of sparkling wine to encourage local bookings.
Despite the most recently announced potentially devastating 32 day non-essential travel lockdown from our main market, the United Kingdom, our Government has steadfastly chosen not to stimulate domestic tourism through fiscal incentives or any other clearly obvious measures, leaving many of our restaurants and ancillary tourism services floundering for survival on their own in apparent discarded isolation.
For some of us, the rationale, or lack of it, is almost impossible to understand.
While any reduction in direct taxation, like the lowering or removal of VAT (Value Added Tax) or more recently imposed additional levies have some inevitable miniscule consequences for the administration, what is the alternative?
If the population at-large do not spend their available funds, then clearly other negative factors will kick-in.
These include loss of employment, business failure and inability to collect other statutory obligations like NIS contributions, land taxes and the VAT payable on certain utilities, supplies and services.
Similarly, if private sector suppliers are not replenishing our hospitality sector at optimal levels, then they in turn suffer possible ramifications, or in the very least will suffer a much longer road to recovery.
Simple examples could include a wine-of-the month, where specific vintners support local distributors to proffer a particular product, which in turn gives the consumer an attractive price across our restaurants, while at the same time increase brand awareness. Other possibilities include notable ice cream manufacturers wishing to grow market share could also follow suit.
None of this is rocket science of course and all it takes is a little creativity and medium to long term vision. It also represents a minimal risk for all involved, at negligible actual cost to those participating.
While one particular bank has been mentioned, others should also play their part. Few credit cardholders could possibly ignore the virtually obscene interest rates for late statement payment hovering around the low to mid- twenty plus percent’s, especially unconscionable during our current economic challenges.
Sadly, there appears to be no effective consumer banking regulation since Governments debt default, so once again, the public is expected to pick up the loss of anticipated profits through higher interest rates and increased fees. This, while experiencing a further reduction, or in some cases, an almost total absence of service delivery and when branches are being closed without any consultation and thousands of customers disadvantaged.