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Push for compensation

GERCINE CARTER, [email protected]

Push for compensation

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Tourism businesses on the South Coast will continue to lobby the Barbados Water Authority for compensation to recoup losses suffered as a result of the South Coast sewage problem.

It is an issue new Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association chairman Stephen Austin promised would remain high on his agenda, since he noted some businesses within the affected areas had lost about 40 to 50 per cent of revenue because some of their “good clients” had refused to return to Barbados. While in other instances, longstanding visitors who had been coming here for decades, had decided to put the island on hold.

Outgoing BHTA chairman Roseanne Myers, however, cautioned the membership compensation may not necessarily be in hard cash, given the country’s dire economic position, when she delivered her final report on her term of office at the BHTA’s annual general meeting at Lloyd Erskine Sandiford centre Wednesday.

“We made an advocacy request to the BWA (Barbados Water Authority) very early, to say ‘you must have a process to compensate the people at some level for their losses’”.

She conceded the BWA’s ability to give hoteliers cash refunds might be a challenge and told the association’s membership: “We have to continue to fight in terms of how members will be compensated. Maybe it is not cash; maybe it’s simply a credit on the monthly bill that recognises the period for which they did not get service.”

In any event, she said: “We are going to continue in those efforts to ensure that we get an answer to what do we do with the losses that have been racked up and how can we be facilitated.”

Prime Minister Mia Mottley who later addressed the BHTA membership, has given the sewage issue priority by allocating $27 million in last week’s mini-budget for upgrades to the South Coast and Bridgetown sewerage plants.

Myers, however, questioned the fairness of the West Coast hotels now having to pay on their water bill through the Garbage Collection and Sewage Contribution the rate of 50 per cent of the water bill as outlined in the budget.

She said while the BHTA had made the recommendation for the imposition of some tax, considering that the South Coast sewerage system was a “national asset” the cost of which only one group was previously being asked to bear, the amount of money being imposed in the new tax “is a little out of what we would have imagined”. 

She advised it was a matter on which the BHTA intended to make representation. (GC)