“What must be clear to Government, is that after granting the unprecedented unilateral concessions to Sandals (which almost two years later not a single other hotel on Barbados has been able to obtain), Sandals must do more than give lip service to supporting our agricultural sector.”
First let me declare my absolute and total support for those advocating the use and consumption of more locally produced items especially by our tourism industry.
When the head of the Barbados Agricultural Society recently boasted that Sandals Barbados were purchasing 1,000 lbs of local produce each week, no-one thought to question him as to what this actually means. In all fairness to James Paul, he stated that they were trying to increase this amount, but let’s look at the current figures.
If the hotel is full that is a capacity of 580 guests each night who have every meal and snack included in the cost. This equates to a volume of just 4 ounces per person per day.
And that is before any allowance is made for the quoted 600 staff and management taking meals on the property.
The United States is currently the largest market for Sandals and the average American, according to internet informed information, is 36.6 years of age, is 5 feet 9 inches tall and weighs 190 lbs if male, or 5 feet 4 inches and 164 lbs if female. Again based on averages each American consumes nearly 5.5 lbs of food per day or a short ton per annum.
Over a year this includes 29 lbs of French Fries, 23 lbs of pizza, 24 lbs of ice cream, 53 gallons of soda, 24 lbs of artificial sweetener and a staggering 2,736 lbs of sodium, which is 47 per cent above the recommended medical limit. All of which add up to 2,700 calories daily.
The question should also be asked, is the average Sandals guest likely to consume more or less than they do at home than on a fully all-inclusive vacation?
In reality then the 4 ounces of ‘local produce’ represents less than 4 per cent of consumables used daily, therefore a proverbial drop in the ocean.
In publicly justifying the low level of spending locally, their procurement manager, Jordan Samuda, stated ‘We know it’s not going to be easy because there is not a relationship that is there already and we do not have any existing hotels in Barbados that are likely to buy on the scale that Sandals is proposing to’.
This surprised me, as while not all-inclusive, The Hilton clearly has more rooms and also directly benefits from outside meetings and events which involve catering.
Elegant Hotels has more all-inclusive rooms across its five hotels than Sandals Casuarina, so what credibility does this statement have?
What must be clear to Government, is that after granting the unprecedented unilateral concessions to Sandals, which almost two years later not a single other hotel on Barbados has been able to obtain there must be more than lip service given to supporting our agricultural sector.
Sandals have every opportunity given their massive financial strength and unique advantages to play a far greater role in helping to incease our capacity to feed both the local and visitor population. Let us see them lead by example including at least partially funding farming groups and perhaps help in providing otherwise waste land to stimulate and encourage co-operative growing entities.