COVID-19 has crushed the tourism industry, accounting for 5,000 hotel worker’s jobs lost and shuttering nearly nine out of ten hotels in the industry’s worst crisis, according to the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association.

He said: “We do have the majority of our hotels indicating that they are closed. The BHTA has a total of 79 hotels, which provide some 5,161 rooms and of those, 87 per cent of our hotels reflecting 95 per cent of our room stock have indicated that they are closed.

“We have undertaken a survey to determine what is the level of staff dislocation and 60 of our 79 hotels have reported. That represents 78 per cent of the members and 78 per cent of the rooms provided by members. Of those 60 hotels they have indicated that they have employed 6,515 persons but presently 81 per cent of those persons are not working, some 5287 persons.”

Grant suggested that even after Barbados recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic those direct tourism services (DTS) would still continue to be affected.

The CEO said: “As it relates to the direct tourism services (DTS) which would include restaurants, attractions, car rental operators, I am not aware of any of the DTS being operational, particularly at this time as we are going through the emergency directives that relate to COVID-19 that have been put in place by Government.

“Even when the curfew ends, the expectation is that the vast majority of the direct tourism services will continue either not to function and those that do will probably be doing so in a very limited kind of manner.”

Despite this, Grant said he was optimistic Barbados’ hotel and tourism industry would rebound from the pandemic which is crippling economies around the world.

But he acknowledged that it would take a while before the sector completely recovered from the pandemic.

The BHTA leader, said: “Of course we recognize this is a very challenging period. The reality is that we are not going to in the rebuilding process get back to where we were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic immediately, but we do believe that through the collaboration with our stakeholders that we can see a rebuilding of this very important industry.

“Presently we are collaborating with the Ministry of Tourism with respect to facilitating training for workers at all levels of the industry. We recognize it is important, particularly as there is some measure of recovery, to ensure that there is good value for money because we think that that value for money proposition is going to be very important.

“We continue to be optimistic that though the recovery will be one that is slow and one that is not expected immediately to get back to where we were prior to COVID-19  pandemic, we are confident we can see a resurgence in business and that we can put the measures in place to take advantage of any opportunities that may exist once the country reopens.”