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Commentary: Tourism Matters: I am all for corporate Barbados doing more
Published on May 15, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

By Adrian Loveridge

I read with some incredulity an article entitled “Hotel school’s funds ‘drying up’ - Principal" in another section of the media.

Knowing the critical importance tourism is in sustaining our economy and the various, either proposed or currently under construction hotel projects around the island, which by all the various figures quoted will necessitate hundreds of skilled hospitality workers, why should our single learning institute dedicated to this sector be experiencing any funding problems whatsoever?

Adrian Loveridge has spent 46 years in the tourism industry across 67 countries, as a travel agent, tour director, tour operator and for the last 24 years as a small hotel owner on Barbados. He served as a director of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association, and as chairman of the Marketing Committee. He also served as a director of the Barbados Tourism Authority and is a frequent writer on tourism
While I can fully understand many parents are under considerable economic pressure at this time and you only have to visit a supermarket on a frequent basis to witness rampant price rises to comprehend this.

But surely the quoted annual fees of $400, purchase of uniforms, other various materials including a three-week certificate course to a two-year associate degree programme to attend the Hospitality Institute can be raised in more creative ways for the students (or their parents) who genuinely cannot these afford these fees?

Yes! I am all for corporate Barbados doing more, especially those chosen few that have benefited disproportionately when compared to the majority of tourism partners which included widespread concessions and avoidance of tax, but government already has a simple mechanism to grant partially enhanced write-off of profits for this purpose.

A simple example was the 150 percent allowance to funds contributed to the Tourism Development Corporation, which I understand is no longer applied.

The question also has to be asked, are students receiving supplemental funds from the contingency fund means-tested? Surely this would include whether students can afford to buy and maintain expensive cell-phones.

In developed countries, it is quite normal for those studying to work part time to supplement higher education fees. Why should it be different here? Clearly if the student really is considering a future in tourism, then on-the-job practical experience at one of our hotels or restaurants would be an incredible plus for both the employee and employer.

To ensure any monies earned through labour undertaken by these interns reaches the Institute, either directly or in study support, some simple arrangement could be established where the tourism partner directly purchases required uniform, a bus pass, provisions for ‘lunch money’ and/or annual fees to offset ‘work experience’ contribution.

Among the new hotel projects are highly trusted big brand names like Westin and Hyatt, so surely they wish to avoid at all costs the much discussed ‘transition’ and potentially reputation damaging period that another chain property experienced and which seemed to last a lot longer that many could have imagined at the time.

In the article it was quoted that "the hotel school accepts about 250 new students each year for the full time course". Subject to planning and construction delays, where is the deficit in employee numbers going to come from with at least three projects coming on-stream within the next two years, if completion dates quoted are even vaguely creditable?

There must currently be a finite pool of trained hospitality staff, so unless this issue is adequately addressed, will the only alternative be to import non-nationals?
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