SAYING he was not aware of either the scale or site of the proposed Sandals resort in Tobago, Barbados Minister of Industry, International Business, Commerce and Small Business Development Donville O. Inniss offered advice to the TT government.
“Cultural affiliated issues sometimes are far more important than the fiscal issues because, at the end of the day, if you allow a large piece of concrete to come and take over what was, before, pristine space without providing an alternative, or if you allow something to occur that restricts the locals access to space for him or her to enjoy, then there may very well be disruption to a community in a manner in which you cannot attach a dollar value to,” he said.
Inniss was addressing a media conference at the Sandals Royal Barbados resort on Saturday evening.
Earlier, asked about concessions which may have been granted to the multinational resort chain which has two resorts in Barbados, he observed that some of the “public commentary” around concessions may be “deeply mired” in politics and not business or economics.
“Every sector in every industry in the Caribbean has evolved because government took a position to either lower the rate of tax applicable for the specific sector to stimulate growth in the sector or they offer other kinds of concessions.
“Nobody owes us a favour, we are going to have, as government, to find ways to accelerate and be able to attract and retain businesses.”
And regarding Sandals, he said the Barbados government had taken a position to diversify the hotel sector. “We needed to breathe some new life into the tourism sector.
“Sandals has spurred other hoteliers to upgrade their hotels and, before Sandals, they were getting similar concessions,”
Inniss said those people who were always nay saying about developmental plans to upgrade the country almost always did not have any viable alternatives to what was being offered.
“If Sandals did not come to Barbados, if Sandals don’t go to Tobago, who will fill that void? It has not cost the taxpayers of Barbados a dime by having Sandals here. If we did not offer, what we call, concessions, this property here perhaps would be barren land – not adding any value to this society.
“So to those that preach that perspective that Sandals is another investor coming into our space to take, tell me what would be your alternative.”
He said Sandals had complied with their environmental issues and had protected the beaches while employment opportunities had also increased.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Tourism and International Transport consultant Hugh Foster said 2017 had been a record year for tourism with air arrivals up by five per cent while cruise arrivals were up by 12.9 per cent.
He said the Grantley Adams International Airport had welcomed 663,441 long stay visitor arrivals, 31,308 more than 2016, while the Bridgetown Port had observed a record 818,752 cruise arrivals, up from 725,020 from 2016.
He said the majority of visitors were from the United Kingdom, United States and Canada.