Tourism Minister, Richard Sealy, speaking to reporters (A. Miller/BGIS)
By Sharifa Medford
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- The advent of the Sandals brand in Barbados has been described as a “seismic shift” in the island’s tourism sector.
This was reiterated by Minister of Tourism Richard Sealy, while speaking to the media recently.
He said that although the island’s local brands were important to the sector, there was much value in having international brands.
“We are not depending heavily on [brands]. There is value in having a few brands. I do not want that from the time you leave the airport and you drive down on the coast road and you drive up St Lucy all you are seeing are brands, international brands that is, I don’t want that. You need to have a few, because of the marketing they might bring and the loyalty programs that they have,” Sealy explained.
Referring to the recently delivered parliamentary statement in which he underlined his assessment of the two major Sandals brands – Sandals and Beaches, the tourism minister asserted that Barbados was now attracting increased airlift as a result of them coming to the island.
“... [That is] nothing against our indigenous brands and I am all for developing them, but they are not going to have that kind of influence and that pull and the power of a strong brand. Sandals is not the only one, you also heard me speak of Four Seasons… Four Seasons has a similar pull,” he noted.
Sealy pointed out that other efforts were under way to make the sector more “cost-competitive internationally”, and alluded to a review and revamping of the Tourism Development Act, which would take place during the course of the first quarter of next year.
“The entire régime will be looked at in terms of how tourism as a sector is treated and the inputs that go into that sector… It’s not to say that we have changed our position. We were very upfront in terms of what we had done given the exigencies of the situation with respect to the food and beverage concessions, we even mentioned wanting to get that for others in the same parliamentary statement… We’re trying to get as equitable a situation for everyone as possible,” he stated.
The tourism minister pointed out there were small hotels that did not have a restaurant on site, and as a consequence would not be able to receive concessions on food and beverage.
In light of this, he explained that the government would be taking a holistic view of the whole tourism sector with the aim of considering all the factors.