Opposition Leader Joseph Atherley (left) and Opposition Senator Crystal Haynes making their way into Parliament yesterday.

blow to tourism

Opposition Leader questions country’s luxury brand, new departure tax

Barbados’ brand as a luxury destination may be diminishing its attractiveness to a large section of the tourist market.

Saying that such a brand may be prohibitive to the middle-income group, which makes up a significant component of the travel market, Opposition Leader Bishop Joseph Atherley questioned whether the promotion of the island as a luxury destination ran counter to its capacity to attract these indi-viduals.

“Imagine the thoughts of such a potential visitor, when he or she sees such luxury brand advertising. I believe in situations like that even Iceland becomes even more attractive to travellers from the UK than the Barbados market, which is promoted as a luxury brand. We have to find a way of dealing with that dilemma of selling ourselves in consonant with our value as a nation, as a destination, as a people and a product, but also being able at the same time to attract those who are lesser able to afford the luxuries implied by our advertising,” he stated.

Pointing out that Aruba attracted similar numbers to Barbados in the 1990s but now records over one million long-stay arrivals annually, Atherley emphasised therefore that the time had come to refresh this island’s tourism product as visitor numbers have stagnated to around half of this.

Speaking on the Airline Travel and Tourism Development fee, he outlined that this may end up doing more harm than good as the cost of travel is very high, particularly within the region.

“It is just about easier for you and I to get to Miami than to get to Antigua, in terms of the cost, and therefore one questions the wisdom, in a context where we want to see an enhanced sense of regional oneness, where we want to subscribe to regional integration and movement of persons as a very pertinent activity within that whole sphere, one questions the advisability of this hefty increase on departure tax.

Imagine the added expense for a travelling family,” he remarked.

In her mini-budget presentation on Monday, Prime Minister Mia Mottley said that come October, passengers flying outside of CARICOM will be charged $140.00 and those flying within CARICOM $70.00. This fee is in addition to the $60 Departure Tax.

He noted that there must also be consideration to the imposition that this fee will place on the already struggling regional airline LIAT. (JMB)

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