“Our infrastructure needs urgent attention, the roads are in bad shape and during the course of our HTA surveys held in February each year, the biggest complaint from cruise visitors is for the state of the roads; this is a deterrent to visitors taking tours. The state of the peninsula road has to be addressed quickly as businesses in that area are suffering from tour busses not using the peninsula road at this time, potentially loosing thousands of cruise ship passengers. This has to be addressed urgently to save their businesses”, said Mr. Head.
He told the forum that the small hotel sector is not in the best of shape, it is suffering from a lack of investment, a lack of marketing and a serious need for the training of personnel.
“We are delighted to say that with the help of the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund we hope to put these problems behind us. EC$ 8 million has been made available for the small hotel sector to refurbish their product and implement marketing plans to promote their product in its newly refurbished state” said CEO of HTA.
He added that staff training should also be addressed to be able to offer the best possible product to our future visitors.
He mentioned the importance to deal with the issue of VAT in the construction industry.
“All developers that started their projects prior to VAT being established in November 2010 must continue to receive VAT concessions until the end or their project, whenever that might be”, said Michael.
“(The) level of taxation on our industry is too high, just because it is the largest industry and the highest contributor to GDP it does not mean we are an easy target for taxation”
Mr. Head went on to speak about the additional cost of the mentioned taxes, which he claimed is a deterrent to prospective visitors and must not be allowed to go any higher. He said it should be reduced to help the sector recover from the worst economic downturn in recent times.
“The airport, our first port of entry for our land based tourists is in need of much help. The air conditioning is not working properly; the greeting our guests get is less than welcoming from both immigration and customs and the wait for both immigration and baggage is unacceptable in this modern day”, said the CEO of HTA.
“Airlift continues to be a challenge and we look forward to the new Air Canada service that will start in December for the season only. However air fares continue to remain high and we ask that we all work together to try and get these fares reduced. It will need a joint effort by the hotels and the Ministry to create specials in conjunction with the airlines, without lowering the average rates the hotels are trying so hard to increase.”
He made it known to the public that he receives emails every week from members showing how much cheaper it is to go to Mexico, USVI and Barbados to mention a few.
The National Consultation on the economy was held on Thursday, 8th September, 2011, at the St. Kitts Marriott, as part of government’s program to receive feedback from the public, private sector organizations, business groups and civil society, about the future economic path to be pursued by the country.