Barbados hoteliers worried about the effects of steadily rising oil prices

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Barbados hoteliers worried about the effects of steadily rising oil prices

Hoteliers in Barbados are worried that they may have to increase room charges in the face of steadily rising oil prices.

Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) chairman, Ralph Taylor, raised the issue at the 2008 annual general meeting of the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association (BHTA).

Taylor identified a significant challenge for global tourism as the spiraling price of oil, noting that some hotels have responded by cutting staff. Major airlines, he added, have announced cuts in their fleets and the number of flights.

“The reality is, if the price of oil continues to rise, then this hotel sector, our hotel sector, will have no option but to levy a surcharge,” Taylor declared.

“There is no chance that we can survive these rising costs.”

Taylor spent a lot of time on the need for Barbados to improve its tourism offerings at a time when the all-important foreign exchange earner is coming face to face with serious challenges.

He spoke of a need for Barbados to provide “a better visitor experience.”

“Barbados should have theme parks, water parks, a rainforest attraction and distribution outlets for artists and artisans,” he suggested.

If Barbados is to become “a world-class destination,” Taylor told the BHTA meeting, the capital, Bridgetown, would have to be reinvented.

He explained that this would mean “making Broad Street and Swan Street the shopping capital of this region, with the best designer shops and brands, world-class dining facilities and entertainment.”

Taylor also called for Pelican Village, a Bridgetown visitor center for handicraft, to be made “relevant” as an “opportunity” for product creation and dissemination.

He suggested too that Barbados “earmark what is left of its existing coastline” for tourism development, much like Cuba has done. “This creates an opportunity to target American hotel brands, regional, indigenous and local brands capable of attracting the United States consumer,” he said.

This move, Taylor contends, would generate more foreign exchange and employment and will “help to drive additional marketing muscle, create greater awareness among American consumers and … increase airlift from the USA.”

Outgoing BHTA President, Alvin Jemmott, took the opportunity to call for Barbados to allow limited gambling in the hotel sector, to make it more attractive for some visitors.

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June 13th, 2008