Sandals boss on APD effect on Caribbean

Friday 12, November 2010


Sandals boss on APD effect on Caribbean


The impact of APD could be the difference between making a profit or not on Caribbean hoteliers, said the Chief Executive of Sandals Resorts, Adam Stewart, at the start of World Responsible Tourism Day at London’s World Travel Market, the premier global event for the travel industry.


With APD adding up to £100 per ticket to Caribbean destinations, the impact is clear. “The UK is a big market for Sandals,” said Stewart. “If Virgin lose 10-15% capacity on flights, we lose 10-15% occupancy - it’s on those last few rooms where we make our profit. Our margins are tight so APD affects visitor numbers and profits.”


When asked by interviewer, BBC’s Stephen Sackur, about the number of smaller, responsible tourism initiatives, Stewart replied: “Each to their own. Small operators do it their way. If we have to go from 250 to 350 rooms to make a profit, then we will. We’re in business to do business. Tourism is the driving force of Caribbean nations and we go to town with hotel developments.’


Sandals, founded in 1981, has 22 hotels employing more than 1,200 staff in the Caribbean and launched its charitable Sandals Foundation in March 2009, which has seen $6m investment during the past years. “If you ask local communities, they see what Sandals is doing – we’re buying local produce, funding local recycling facilities and ensuring the people we work with practise sustainability. So those extra rooms are the profit which enable us to do these things.”


Stewart also admitted the Caribbean was overly-dependent on tourism. “We’re vulnerable, yes. The global market and economies of scale mean we can’t compete at a manufacturing level. We’re aware that no government has surplus cash so without grants and farming subsidies for our banana industry for example, we can’t compete with the likes of Brazil.”


Questioned over whether ‘money talks’ with regards to tourism developments, Stewart said: “Yes, often it’s just raw profit with one hospitality sector launching and killing off another. I would love to see better planning and less bureaucracy.” He also reiterated the importance of education as key to tackling key problems facing the Caribbean like over-fishing, response to natural disasters and HIV.


Stewart was also asked whether Sandals ever exercised its financial or economic clout. “We work with governments but if there’s a hint of political motive, we’re out of town.”



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