BLP has no plan for tourism, says Sealy
Former Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy dismissed Government’s post-COVID tourism plan as “foolishness”.
He also asserted that the Mia Mottley administration had the wrong person in charge of the sector, saying Cabinet members Colin Jordan and Ian Gooding-Edghill, or Government Senator Rudy Grant would be better choices given their knowledge of the sector.
Sealy urged Government to get serious about tourism while speaking Monday night at Thorpe’s Cottage, St. George in support of Democratic Labour Party candidate Floyd Reifer.
“What hurts me is when I can see that Bahamas, a country serious about tourism, can put together a plan for dealing with post COVID times….This was done in May 2020, 111 pages. What has Barbados done? Here it is October 2020, six months later we get all of six pages in a COVID plan,” he said.
“If you see the foolishness that they have put together in six pages, this could not come on my desk when I was your minister of tourism, they would have to send it back.
“This is serious business, …we need foreign exchange, there is only so much we can produce. We need fuel for our vehicles, $800 million; we have food that has to be imported, $700 million”.
Sealy said his phone “has been ringing off the hook about the situation involved in tourism and why it has reached this stage”.
“This time last year we had over 600 000 visitors to the country, we have got just over 50 000 now. Now these are tough times, but this is the time when you plan, this is the time when you prepare, because the world has seen pandemics before and we are going to get past this,” he said.
The former minister said while the former DLP administration had supported economic diversification, the reality was that despite its challenges, tourism would continue to be vital for Barbados.
“Tourism has always had a soft underbelly, we know this, and the Democratic Labour Party…we were all about diversifying away from tourism, and when we were in government that strategy had the full support of the minister of tourism,” he recalled.
“We have to look at other sectors and that will help improve tourism. However, it is what is carrying us at the moment and it demands that you have proper attention.” (GBM)