What hoteliers want
The Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association is cognisant of the challenges facing the Government of Barbados at this time. We are aware that, as a small island developing state with an open economy, we are impacted, sometimes severely, by the economic fortunes of our main trading partners.
President of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association Colin Jordan gives his take on tomorrow’s Budget.
It is with this in mind that we have sought to impress upon policymakers the need to take a balanced approach to the solving of our economic challenges. We have as a consequence urged that, even as we move swiftly to address and resolve our unsustainable deficit, we must concurrently ensure that our foreign exchange earning sectors are not hindered.
For cash flow purposes, we hope that the Minister of Finance allows tourism sector businesses to pay their land tax either in quarterly instalments, or in monthly instalments over the winter season, without losing the ten per cent discount that is normally received. We would also like to have stand-alone restaurants and other attractions be treated similarly to the way those attached to hotels are treated.
We would like to see some incentive provided for residents that will encourage them to take advantage of the Staycation programme, thus retaining foreign exchange, safeguarding employment in the sector and exposing residents to the industry.
It would be helpful if tourism businesses could offset the significant refunds owed to them by the Value Added Tax (VAT) Department against other statutory amounts owed to Government.
We believe that our competitiveness can be improved by reducing the VAT rate to the original 15 per cent rather than have the sector absorb or pass on the recent VAT increases.
In like manner, some food items, like heavy cream, that are not produced in Barbados, but that are widely used in the industry, should have their current rates of duty (140 per cent to 189 per cent) reduced. The excise tax on diesel used by the tour jeeps should be reduced. VAT is charged on top of that tax and they cannot reclaim the VAT.
Similarly, there is no reason why companies which earn their living from cruise ship passengers should be penalised for the purchase of compulsory insurance that is not available in Barbados.
Our focus is firstly on the viability of the foreign exchange earning businesses and secondly, retaining a competitive price position in the market. We believe that these are some of the measures the minister can implement to protect the foreign exchange position of the country.