Black Immigrant Daily News
With the promise of a better future for the island’s tourism product, the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) reflected on the trials and triumphs of the two-year COVID-19 pandemic at the recent BHTA 70th Anniversary Awards Gala.
The ceremony which was held on Friday, December 9, was aptly themed Revitalised and Renewed, in recognition of the tumultuous period tourism stakeholders face.
During her opening remarks, BHTA chief executive officer Renee Coppin described the pandemic as nothing short of apocalyptic.
“We have been through an apocalypse,” an emotional Coppin reflected. She noted that the pandemic was just a comma in the lengthy list of disasters that the country faced. Barbados was hit by a hurricane for the first time in 60 years, was engulfed by ashfall by the La Soufriere volcanic eruption and witnessed a freak storm that left many dislocated.
The BHTA CEO stated that the resilience of the tourism industry in their perilous times, reflected the determination and perseverance of its people.
“However, an apocalypse also means revelation, and what it revealed to us is the depth of our resilience and our character, the breadth of our partnerships. Every player stepped up to save this industry from our government to our suppliers and our other industry partners and as a result of that, we are still here, still standing and tonight reflects our determination to build back stronger and better,” she continued.
Feature speaker, Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Ian Gooding-Edghill added that plans were afoot to “reposition the industry on a path of sustainable growth post COVID-19”.
He stated that efforts were being made to increase land-based arrivals by 2024, and the Government was awaiting the passing of the Civil Aviation Bill which will assist in facilitating a safer and more reliable air transport system.
“As minister with responsibility for both tourism and international transport, my vision for the sector is to strengthen the collaboration between government and the industry partners by building synergies. Therefore, my ministry has embarked on several initiatives aimed at strengthening Barbados, and the Barbados brand in order to reposition the industry on a path of sustainable growth post COVID-19,” said the Tourism Minister.
“My ministry is pleased with the strategic course adopted by the BHTA to ensure that Barbados remains top of mind for travellers and the premier destination for both pleasure and business. I am happy to say that we have always enjoyed a mutually beneficial relationship with the BHTA, and I look forward to the continuation of this strategic partnership.”
“We are navigating through turbulent waters but through our resolve and resilience we face the challenges and stay the course,” he continued.
The Minister presented awards to the recipients of the Hotel of the Year – Luxury, which went to Sandy Lane Hotel; Hotel of the Year – A Class, which was awarded to Little Arches and Hotel of the Year – B Class and Apartments which went to Eco Lifestyle and Lodge.
It was a triumphant night for boutique hotel, Eco Lifestyle and Lodge, who also received the Environmental Sustainability Award of the Year.
Restaurant of the Year went to Chefette Restaurants Ltd. Blue Sky Luxury received the award for Vacation Rental Property Management Company and the Business Excellence Award – Tourism Attraction – Member of the Year went to Atlantis Submarines Barbados.
Business Excellence Award – Supporting Member of the Year went to Gallagher. Meanwhile, Business Excellence Award – Industry Supplier of the Year and the Social Responsibility of the Year Award went to FLOW.
The Business Excellence Award – Tourism Partner of the Year went to the Enterprise Growth Fund.
The Crane was the recipient of the Special Award in response to COVID-19 for their commendable efforts during the height of the pandemic.
Hanif Walcott, the operations manager of St James Travel and Tours was named the Employee of the Year.
The Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to hotelier and former owner of Elegant Hotels, Sunil Chatrani for his contribution to the industry and Jackie White who has over three decades of service to the hospitality sector.