The Barbados Hotel and Tourism Organisation has expressed concern about the “regrettable news” of the closure of the CHAPS Restaurant entities, Cin Cin By The Sea, Primo Bar & Bistro and Hugo’s Barbados.
Chief executive officer Joanne Pooler made the announcement via media release yesterday morning, sending shockwaves through the industry and to the surprise of some workers.
Later that day, Minister of Tourism Kerrie Symmonds and Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs Marsha Caddle met with Pooler to see if Government could provide any support.
Pooler also met with staff later that day.
Chief executive officer Rudy Grant issued the following statement:
The Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) is extremely concerned about the regrettable news of the closure of the CHAPS Restaurants Ltd., entities, namely Cin Cin By The Sea, Primo Bar & Bistro and Hugo’s Barbados.
All three of these restaurants are members of our association and the decision to close them is very unfortunate.
These closures reduce the options available to visitors and Barbadians as it relates to our cuisine offerings. The culinary delights of Barbados provide for a positive experience with our visitors and any development which diminishes the opportunity for visitors to have a diversified culinary experience is challenging.
We are greatly concerned regarding the 149 employees who will now be out of work. It is always saddening when persons lose their jobs as this has implications in many instances not only for the individuals but for their families as well.
The BHTA, in our discussions with the relevant Government officials, has advocated for stand-alone restaurants which earn significant foreign exchange to benefit from the waiver of taxes and duties.
Restaurants which are owned and operated by hotels derive limited benefits from the waiver of taxes and duties through the Tourism Development (Amendment) Act (TDAA) 2014. However, it is important to note that the majority of restaurants owned and operated by hotels do not receive the waiver of taxes and duties for all of their food and beverage.
Since the TDAA was passed into law over five years ago, the BHTA has been continually seeking to ensure that the benefits conceptualized through the TDAA are realized for both hotel-operated restaurants and stand-alone restaurants which meet the agreed foreign exchange criteria.
Those restaurants which are leased out by hotels are considered as stand-alone and treated in the same manner as restaurants which are not attached to hotels. The former do not benefit from any waiver of taxes and duties.
The BHTA has conveyed to Government that the benefits of the waiver of taxes and duties, as contemplated in the TDAA, could also be provided to stand-alone restaurants provided that they meet an agreed foreign exchange earning criteria. These discussions are ongoing, and we have been informed that Government is reviewing the entire Fiscal Incentives Regime.
There are many BHTA stand-alone restaurant members that, from reports, are operating effectively without the benefit of the TDAA concessions and with the increased taxes. There is no doubt that access to the benefits provided in the TDAA would make our restaurants more globally competitive.
In all market segments, visitors are closely assessing the value for money proposition to assist in determining where they spend their money. Of course, this does not only relate to price competitiveness but also includes other important variables.
The BHTA will reach out to CHAPS Restaurants Ltd., to ascertain what assistance we can provide at this very challenging and unfortunate time.
We will continue to advocate for the TDAA benefits for our stand-alone restaurant members. However, we are confident that the majority of our members will continue to operate and provide a gratifying cuisine experience to the satisfaction of both Barbadians and visitors alike. (PR)