(BARBADOS TODAY) – Workers of three of the island’s major restaurants, Cin Cin By the Sea, Primo Bar & Bistro and Hugo’s Barbados are anxious for answers after Chaps Restaurants Limited abruptly closed operations today.
The 149 workers who were not notified by their employer have been summoned to a meeting at its Canewood office at 4 p.m. this evening.
In a statement issued today, Chief Executive Officer Joanne Pooler blamed the closure of the restaurants on a significant drop in visitor spend over the last 12 months, a decline in the British Pound Sterling exchange rate and increased taxes on tourism-related restaurants.
Pooler said, “These reductions were primarily as a result of factors outside of our control. In Barbados, it is very easy for the general public to be comforted by the tourism statistics that are quoted. Unfortunately, the increase in arrivals from our airport and seaports has not reflected the revenue spent in our restaurants and our locations are heavily reliant on tourist spending.”
She also pointed to the negative impact of a hike in Government taxes imposed on tourism-related restaurants, including a 2.5 per cent increase in Value Added Tax and 2.5 per cent levy imposed in the past two years.
“This is an additional five per cent on restaurant bills which based on the already high costs pushes the prices up for customers. The wider public may not be aware of a very unfair duty-free tax concession that is given to restaurants attached to hotels but not to stand-alone restaurants. In simple terms, this means that the food is significantly cheaper for hotel restaurants than restaurants, which are not attached to hotels, such as ours,” Pooler claimed.
She added that this does not represent “a fair playing field to try and run a business and is in our opinion, is discriminatory.”
She called on the Government to address the matter urgently, saying that stand-alone restaurants cannot compete in the current environment.