‘The Problem with the empty hotel rooms currently being experienced in Barbados and the wider region can only be blamed on the organisers of Cricket World Cup (CWC)’
Barbados Minister of Tourism, Noel Lynch
The response of Minister Lynch at a political meeting held at the Garrison Secondary School was in reply to the growing tourism industry voices expressing concern over the hundreds and possibly thousands of empty hotel rooms leading up to the hosting of the super eights and cricket final in April.
Compounding the concerns has been the Barbadian Government’s decision to borrow US$15 million from a commercial bank to charter the cruise ship Carnival Destiny, despite the Minister’s assurances that the ship has been ‘80% sold’.
And according to one leading hotel supplier, part of the deal with Carnival Corporation was to be allowed to import all the consumables to cater for the onboard cricket fans, free of any taxes or duties in 25 containers.
Land based hoteliers currently have to pay taxes and duties for around 70 to 80% of all the items they use, as Barbados produces less than 26% of its food requirements.
Also contributing to the reduced number of anticipated visitors is the late implementation of a Caricom Visa requiring some nationals to pay US$100 per visa plus processing and courier costs of up to another US$100.
While explaining the rational for the visa, Barbadian Deputy Prime Minister and Caricom Security Committee chairperson Mia Mottley stated that she convened an emergency meeting of the ten Ministers of Tourism in Georgetown, Guyana last November to discuss the visa implications ‘and only two turned up’.
While Minister Noel Lynch has refuted any blame or responsibility for for the ‘well below normal occupancy levels’, St. Lucia’s Minister of Tourism, a seasoned industry professional, has admitted it is a ‘small disaster’.
Having just returned this afternoon from meeting a group at Grantley Adams International airport, Flight VS29 Virgin from Gatwick – 200 plus empty seats. Flight AA1089 American Airlines from Miami, over two thirds empty.
Here we are at our so called peak season, and you can see the consequences of the wrong decisions.
20 March 2007