LEADING Barbadian Hotelier, Ralph Taylor is optimistic of a turnaround in the fortunes of the local tourism industry.
Taylor who has showed confidence in the industry by investing in a spanking new hotel plant known as Soco, said however that they need to make that optimism work.
“I believe in Barbados, I think Barbados has a lot to offer, it has good people and wonderful beaches, a good product overall, and overall what is happening is that the recession is here,” he stated.
The hotelier noted that the recession has been around for longer than many would have imagined, and that financing is not really available for upgrading and expanding hotels.
According to him, “The sector is under the same strain as all other international tourism sectors seeking money. Some of our products are older and the more challenges we face for cash, the wear and tear is going to hit harder. We need to do something about the product by improving it.”
The hotelier said that the officials have to decide how this should be done. He suggested that the government and the private sector must come together and find ways even in these difficult times and see how funds can be raised to assist the industry.
Taylor maintained that while the automotive industry in the United States found itself with more challenges than the hotel industry in the Caribbean, the American Government bailed it out to the point where it is now making money.
According to him, “We should not run away when things go wrong. Businesses go through a life cycle and what we need to do is that when hard times come along do not just allow the businesses to die.”
Taylor suggested also that businesses should be reorganised and restructured, failing which there would be fall outs, unemployment will increase, and there will be more pressure in the system.
Soco is a small boutique 24-room hotel strategically located on the southcoast of the island. A number of former employees of Almond Beach village are employed at Soco.
Taylor said that Soco is an idea coming out of what is happening in Tourism. Visitors, according to him, are looking for something new and he is offering that at Soco.
“They are a more discerning audience, they want to come here, enjoy their food and beverages, read their books, and then out as they wish since they are not hamstrung,” Taylor said while noting that the smaller hotels are carving out that niche.
He explained that while Soco is an all inclusive property it still caters to a wider clientele who can come in and enjoys some of the services including breakfast and lunches. “So I have revolutionised that,” he said. (JB)