The disclosure came from Minister of Finance Christopher Sinckler Friday during a site visit of the Sandals Barbados resort, undergoing large-scale upgrade at Dover in Christ Church, on the island’s South Coast. Sinckler notes “ what we are going to do for hoteliers in Barbados, for tourism operators, is not a transient waving of the pen or signing of a document by the Minister of Finance under 67 (b) of the Income Tax Act.”
He continued “The concessions which Sandals got, all the others will get but they will get it permanently, in permanent legislation that they call on each and every time they require it rather than having to write the Minister of Finance every other time they’re doing upgrades to a property to get it.”
The legislation, which the minister indicated would resemble the menu of concessions offered to Sandals, would therefore allow for tax relief of up to 40 years on tourism inputs, including food and beverage imports. According to the finance minister, the new legislation will be published shortly.
The Barbadian Minister of Finance is of the view that the new legislation which his government is championing will transform the industry in an unprecedented manner. The new approach to tourism incentive on the island was used to lure world renowned Sandals Resorts International to the island’s shores with a USD350 million investment into the country, acquiring two financially challenged resorts.
Sinckler also pointed out that Sandals will not merely bring more rooms but will also inspire elevated standard levels in the country’s tourism sector.
“Sandals will cause many of our resorts to raise the bar and operate at a higher level. And when the Beaches Brand comes along in St. Peter it will raise the bar even further. So we are very assured that we have done the right thing by inviting the Sandals group here. Already we are seeing a different attitude from the airlines and travel community as it relates to investing in Barbados and that is because of the presence of the Sandals Brand.
Also on hand at the press conference was Barbados’ Tourism Minister, Richard Sealy who admitted that the island never understood how strong the Sandals Brand was in the US market. Sealy reiterated that the island will see tremendous boost in airlift and marketing capacity as a result of Sandals.
The 700 room acquisition by Sandals will see two of its luxury brands operating on the island in the very near future. Following a USD65 million renovation of 280-room Sandals Barbados formerly Almond Casuarina, the resort chain is also due to start a massive upgrade on the 426-room Almond Beach Village which it has also acquired for the establishment of its luxury Beaches Brand.