Better tourism plan needed, says Santia
STRESSING that there is no strategic plan and better can be done, Opposition Member of Parliament Santia Bradshaw, says there has been no clearly thought out and properly executed plan of action in the tourism sector.
Bradshaw made that assertion in Parliament last night while delivering her response to the Financial Statement and Budgetary Proposals made by Minister of Finance, Christopher Sinckler, on Tuesday.
She said there has been decline in numbers of tourists over the past few years, decline in average spend and a closure of the several of the attractions across Barbados.“We all accept that the hotel plant is an ageing product and we expect that in light of all of these factors, that the Government of Barbados will take corrective steps to ensure that more is done in the market place,” she said.
In relation to the recent ten- point plan proposed by Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, Bradshaw was of the view that the five per cent rebate on electricity has had little impact on the hoteliers.
“The reality is that while the rebate make go some way, the fact is, that the operating costs for hoteliers is very significant and so while there have been calling for reductions in the operating costs, this on its own will not bring a solution to the problems they are facing,” she said.
Bradshaw said the $100 million ($50 million) tourism and marketing and promotion programme incentive, was an acknowledgement of what the Barbados Labour Party (BLP) had been saying for some time, that the sector needs the relevant funding in order to market and promote it.
“What concerns me is that the funds which are being sourced from the US $100 million fiscal policy base loan to be negotiated with the IADB is only to be done later this year, which means we are likely again to totter along through this year’s winter season, in the hope that the monies are disbursed before the end of the winter season.
“And why is that important? It is important because the world travel market takes place in November and Barbados needs to be in a position to be able to market and to promote itself to the various tour operators if we are suppose to have a bountiful season in the winter months,” she said.
Bradshaw said that St Lucia was being better marketed than Barbados which has beocme a high priced destination.
“Barbados continues to be one of the premier destinations of choice but at the same time, it is expensive for most travellers in the overseas markets, particularly in our source markets. In contrast to Barbados, you can get a flight going to St Lucia for 579 pounds and that includes your ability to book your hotel accommodation,, whereas for Barbados, the prices are in the region of 622.
“St Lucia is promoting itself as an eco tourism destination, When you look at all of the on-line web sites, they are promoting the Soufriere, mud baths in St Lucia but in relation you don’t see any similar marketing and advertising being done and therefore the choices that are being made by consumers are completely different to what may have been made before,” she said.
The Member of Parliament for St Michael South East told the chamber that while she supported any initiative that will lend any asssitance to Barbados in terms of marketing Rihanna, the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) should not pat itself on the back for the number of tourists who came here the last time the global star performed here.On the issue of university education, Bradshaw said that she does not know how some people in St. Michael South East who cannot now pay for books, will be able to afford tuition fees at the UWI. (MK)