Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) chief executive officer Rudy Grant. (Picture by Xtra Vision Photography)
The following is the full statement from the BHTA to mark Barbados’ 53rd anniversary of Independence from Senator Rudy Grant, CEO -Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association.
As Barbados celebrates its 53rd anniversary of independence, the Chairman, Directors, members and staff of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) take this opportunity to wish all Barbadians a happy Independence Day.
Throughout this year, we have highlighted the many critical issues facing our industry, including increased levies and taxation, Brexit, the pending United Kingdom general elections and, most recently, the collapse of Thomas Cook, which could have severely impacted our performance for the upcoming winter season.
We, however, are pleased to note that, despite these challenging issues, Barbados’ tourism industry is still thriving. The most recent Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc., (BTMI) figures indicate a 4.2 percent increase in long stay visitor arrivals for the period January to September this year, compared to the same period in 2018. Our STR Report informs of a five (5) percent increase in occupancy for our participating members.
The BHTA will continue to provide a strong voice for our members and to represent their interests. From our advocacy, to our strategic partnerships and our market and product development activities, we must continue to work tirelessly to facilitate the continued sustainable growth of this most important industry for the benefit of our members and all Barbadians.
To reflect on some of these activities and projects aimed at enhancing the sector and attracting more visitors to the island, the BHTA participated in a number of international and regional trade shows and conferences, to market and promote the island. These included the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) Marketplace, ITB Berlin, BTMI’s UK Taste of Barbados Road Show, Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum (CHIEF), IMEX America and World Travel Market (WTM).
The strengthening of our strategic partnerships with other tourism entities including the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport, BTMI, the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC) and the Intimate Hotels of Barbados (IHB), also took centre stage for the association again this year.
In 2019 we continued to lobby on behalf of members on issues such as the Tourism Levy Bill, the Room Rate, Product Development and Shared Economy Levies, the Tourism Development Act (TDA) and the Tourism Development (Amendment) Act (TDAA) and the Increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) and commercial water rates, among other matters critical to their offering and performance.
As it relates to safety and security, we continued our work with the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF), by providing funding for the purchase and installation of additional cameras as part of the Holetown CCTV Project as well as for Oistins. We also partnered with the TDC and the St. Lawrence Gap Committee to provide assistance to the RBPF for the refurbishment of the Police caravan in St. Lawrence Gap. Further, support was also provided by the BHTA in the supply of beach uniforms for 22 members of the Force’s Special Beach Patrol Unit.
This year, the BHTA, in association with the Barbados Dive Operators Association (BDOA) and the BTMI, also hosted the third successful annual Dive Fest Barbados, another activity aimed at assisting in the promoting of Barbados and attracting more visitors.
In our thrust to continue to also promote our island Barbados as the ‘Culinary Capital of the Caribbean’, while providing a developmental tool for our local chefs and bartenders, just last week, we hosted the cuisine segment of the 2019 BHTA Barbados Culinary Competition, which continues on December 5 and 6 with the bartender competition.
We must again congratulate the current Barbados Culinary Team, which took the top prize of Caribbean National Team of the Year and nine other medals at the prestigious Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s Taste of the Caribbean earlier this year.
We also facilitated training for members via a Springboard Caribbean workshop which provides the opportunity for them to gain UK accredited Diplomas in Management and Leadership. In addition, we also hosted two University of the West Indies (UWI) Tourism and Hospitality Management students for 12 weeks as part of our annual internship programme and partnered with Expedia to provide scholarships for members to pursue studies at E-Cornell University.
Entering the final quarter of 2019, the BHTA focused on improving the operation of the association. To this end, our Board of Directors and staff recently participated in a major strategic planning session as part of our efforts to create the organisational structure necessary to better respond to our members’ needs in this competitive environment. Additionally, we are in the process of upgrading our website, which will be launched shortly.
Today, as we celebrate this 53rd anniversary and reflect on our achievements over the past year, we are cognisant of the importance of our efforts and pledge our continued commitment to ensure the further development and sustainability of this vital industry.
Happy 53rd anniversary of Independence, Barbados!