However, while warning that it “cannot be the way”, the Prime Minister said to loud applause that “one of the early things the Ministry of Tourism will be looking at is how to bring about greater equity as well as fairness and transparency in the management of those concessions under the Tourism Development Act”.
Responding to a question posed by Sandy Lane’s Director of Finance, Risks and Compliance Joanne Roett during the annual general meeting of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, Mottley also suggested that the Gordon Butch Stewart-led Sandals Resorts International (SRI), which benefited from a suite of concessions granted by the previous Democratic Labour Party (DLP) Government, would be made to pull its weight just like every other “Barbadian” hotelier.
“Let me say therefore, that I look forward to meeting with Mr Stewart on behalf of the Government and people of Barbados and, at the very least, let’s start where we need to start, with the room levy. So I look forward to that conversation as we move forward together,” she added.
In order to attract the Jamaica-based hotel chain to the island, the DLP administration had granted the SRI a suite of concessions back in 2013, including a 25-year tax holiday.
The controversial deal also included waivers on duties for the importation of motor vehicles and personal and household effects for senior hotel staff and non-Barbadian workers.
When the tax holiday period is over, Sandals will only be required to pay half the “applicable rates and taxes prevailing” for another 15 years.
SRI, which currently operates Sandals Barbados and Sandals Beaches in Dover, Christ Church, is scheduled to embark on an estimated US$400 million construction of a Beaches Resort at the old Almond Resort site in St Peter.
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