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BHTA welcomes Budget measures

CAROL MARTINDALE, [email protected]

BHTA welcomes Budget measures

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The Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) has welcomed measures in the 2013 Budget aimed at assisting the tourism sector but says they must be implemented quickly to make a difference.
In a statement issued yesterday, President Patricia Affonso-Dass said her association was “appreciative” of the measures outlined by Minister of Finance Chris Sinckler on Tuesday, saying they “speak to many of the critical issues the association has been lobbying for, for some time”.
In particular, she identified the new VAT rate of 7.5 per cent on accommodation in the hotel sector and direct tourism services; the initiative to return 1 000 rooms back into production, some of which will be under international brand name management; and the earmarking of an additional $100 million for marketing and promotional activities of the Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA).
“Based on the present state of the industry, and in order to stem the current downward trend in arrivals and revenue, it is imperative that these measures move forward expeditiously and that all related regulations, modalities and definitions be confirmed in the shortest possible time,” Affonso-Dass said.
Some of the other measures the BHTA welcomed were the reduction of bound rates – with the president saying the association looked forward to receiving a comprehensive list of additional items within the promised six-month period; and the $50 million Hotel Refurbishment Fund which is now ready to receive applications.
The latter measure will be open to registered tourism accommodation establishments on favourable loan terms, with an offer of a special duty and tax waiver programme for businesses accessing the loan over the next 18 months.
Affonso-Dass said while that was a start it remained to be seen whether the sum would be enough.
“When considering the total number of hotels in need of refurbishment, there is question as to whether this quantum of funds will have the necessary impact to cause the needed turn around,” she said.
In reference to the additional funding to the BTA, Affonso-Dass said it was important that a marketing and public relations plan, that could be immediately implemented and involved full measurement of all initiatives, be put into place.
The BHTA president also welcomed Sinckler’s agreement to meet on a quarterly basis with the association and the Ministry of Tourism.
“We will be using these meetings to monitor the progress of the initiatives listed in the budget and in the recently announced 10-point plan,” she said. (DP)