Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy

Once there is adequate investment in Barbados’ physical tourism plant, the sector can thrive.

This view was expressed by Minister of Tourism, Richard Sealy, this week as he delivered a report on projections for the 2012-2013 tourism winter season, at Ocean 2 Hotel, Christ Church.

Mr. Sealy observed that even though some properties were out of commission for a period, due to upgrading, the benefits were worth the inconvenience.?? Highlighting the Almond Beach Village in St. Peter as an example, the Tourism Minister observed that despite current challenges, the property’s reopening would be marked by significant improvements.

"I think it is important to note that the owner of that hotel property is currently engaging with a number of players who are very keen to take it over…They are at an advanced stage of negotiations…There is even the possibility that some of those rooms may be in use at the back end of the winter season…In all of the offers, the good thing to report is that there will be an increase in the number of keys, so we will go from 350 rooms to possibly 500 rooms or even more…We expect to see something positive coming out of that," he said.??

Acknowledging the efforts of other local properties, Mr. Sealy noted that a return on investment was already evident for those who had upgraded their physical plant.

"…The hotel properties that are doing well are [the ones] that have invested in increasing the quality of their offering.?? The Elegant Group of Hotels recently spent a sizeable sum on all of their properties, and they have seen improved occupancy…The Crane continues to do extremely well… [They] recently did an IPO, trying to raise US$30 million and I think that that kind of creativity is what is needed if we are going to really get this sector going to another level.??

"The Government really cannot do it alone…Private sector leaders have to be prepared to take risk and invest by improving capacity, that way we will see greater foreign exchange being earned," he said.

Underscoring the fact that Casuarina Hotel was seeing good occupancy levels and forward bookings since its refurbishment, while Grand Barbados’ retrofit was near completion, Minister Sealy observed that the positive results coming out of these improvements would not only augur well for the tourism sector, but also reflected the industry’s strength.

"It tells the right story, in terms of the investment climate here in Barbados…Hotels can make money…You have to be prepared to make the appropriate investments and there are enough shining examples that provide the eloquent testimony to that fact," Mr. Sealy noted.


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