Does Barbados protect foreign investors and buyers of vacation properties?

How many incomplete, delayed and struggling vacation projects line our beaches?

by Adrian Loveridge, small hotel owner

It must be a very fine line that any responsible Government walks, especially during a period of prolonged financial challenges.

On one hand, they want to encourage, entice and persuade overseas investors to commit to projects that produce employment, wealth creation and meaningful long term value. While at the same time, they equally desire to protect the integrity of the destination, which in our case is often referred to as iconic.

It is almost impossible without having sight of the facts, to ascertain exactly how many hundreds of units of a variety of tourism residences have been ‘sold’ over the last few years, based on computer generated images or artists impressions. Clearly in a multitude of cases, a considerable number of these have yet to be built, let alone, occupied.

Ultimately, of course the latin phrase ‘caveat emptor’ or buyer beware, prevails.

But…

Should ‘we’ as one of the Caribbean pioneers of tourism with a long and relatively successful  history in this sector, not have clearly understandable and transparent legislation in place to protect what could become regular repeat visitors to our shores? Does for instance, the relevant Government Ministry conduct due diligence checks on foreign based companies that submit planning applications for tourism projects, before they are approved?

Is there an insistence that a subsidiary company is legally incorporated in Barbados, and all transactions, whether sales, lease or rental are subject to the laws of this land?

Do ‘we’ ensure that all deposits, pending title completion of the property are held in an escrow account here on Barbados and stipulate the collected funds can only be used to build and market that particular project? (Editor’s note: We all know the answer to that question and it isn’t pretty!)

Surely too, as a country, we have an obligation to protect our own indigenous developers and investors and make certain they are competing on a level playing field. Otherwise, how do you encourage more local people to get-on-board and become vested participants in the tourism industry.

Perhaps, I am concerned needlessly, because some of these developments appear to have been given the official seal of approval, with images showing senior officials including Government Ministers appearing in the promotional material. In the event there should be some failure with one or more of these projects, could it damage our image overseas and plant a question mark in the minds of other potential ‘investors’ looking to purchase a second home within the region?

We already know the power and reach of the tabloid media in the United Kingdom and the negative effects they can have and that is before we even consider the blogs and other internet social sites. Our policymakers must accept that it is virtually impossible to bury contentious issues anymore. Potentially damaging articles can be read by millions of people within minutes of appearing.

Conversely, imagine the marketing value that absolutely open and comprehensive buyer legislation could bring us, when that prospective purchaser may be presented with a multitude of destination options. It stands to reason, that they would then first chose a jurisdiction where they feel their investment is protected.

Let ‘us’ set the standards for the entire Caribbean.

8 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Barbados Tourism

8 responses to “Does Barbados protect foreign investors and buyers of vacation properties?

  1. yatiniteasy

    Quite correct Adrian..see the following offer on a UK website to see the kind of misrepresentation that is still going on with respect to Merricks, Barbados.

    http://search.overseasguidescompany.com/property/details/1031602/

  2. It's only money!!

    And the foolish sun-starved Brits
    so crazy to escape their crappy climate
    will throw money at anything in the hope to live part of their time in Blessed Barbados -The Land Of The Eternal Summer.

  3. not a foolish Brit

    @It’s only money

    And the foolish sun damaged Bajans are so crazy to think the Brits will contiue to prop up your failing, corrupt economy and declining tourist industry

    but then its only money

  4. yatiniteasy

    Big coverage in Nation News Today..almost laughable how gullible is our local media.

    They quote Harlequin people as saying that they are awaiting planning approval for Merricks, yet for years they have been selling over 1000 units there to investors, and have told them that planning approval was obtained.

    Indeed if the place has been sold out, why build a “show village” at all?

    The Nation article also states “Harlequin Resorts also OPERATES Buccament Bay Resortin St Vincent, Marquis Estate in St Lucia, and Las Canas in the Dominican Republic”. What a pile of doo doo..they operate a 1/3 finished resort in St Vincent, and are yet to build one room in St Lucia or Dominican Republic.

    Do they just print whatever propaganda they are handed?

    Like..where are the 300 people from 20 local companies doing the construction?

  5. 144

    Good article and an important question for Barbados, as well as other islands. Look at the coverage Pattaya has had about its dodgy overseas property industry (caused by same people involved with Harlequin) Clearly, someone who can afford to buy an overseas property (that exists!), or can invest in doing a development themselves, is going to rather work/invest in a destination where there are not bandits distorting the market, ripping people off with impunity and showing that anything goes to make a sale, regardless of whether anything gets built. They will rather invest if they thought things were more regulated, and they will skip over Barbados and other islands if they have such concerns. Why risk developing honestly in a place where someone can compete in the same market but be running a scam? They will simply go elsewhere (there are many other options), costing the island investment and jobs, and this indeed has already happened on many occasions.

  6. Nostradamus

    @yatiniteasy

    “Do they just print whatever propaganda they are handed?”

    The answer is yes they do.

  7. Henry

    Nostradamus

    Totally agree with you look at https://barbadosfreepress.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/echo-news-co-uk-takes-down-major-harlequin-investigative-report-why/#comment-980032
    Ian D Bourne i gather is a reporter and on http://www.nationnews.com/articles/view/harlequin-big-boost-to-building/
    both seem to be on the same day with Harlequin. Neither of this articles and videos show anyone working and if you look at the Nation picture you can see through to the rear of the property those footings seem to taking there time coming out of the ground. Lots of chiefs !!!!

  8. 84

    If is sounds too good to be true…..it is!