EDITORIAL: Improving the Tourism industry
IT is more necessary than ever for each person to determine ways in which the tourism and hospitality industry can be improved. It is one of our major industries, and as such deserves close scrutiny. Through close examination, we can pinpoint some of its shortcomings in order to produce the most noteworthy product or service possible. There are several aspects to be considered when developing any product: the quality of the raw materials, the integrity of the creation process, and finally the packaging of the product. If the tourism industry is viewed in a similar manner, some of its weaknesses may come to light.
When we think of raw materials, for example, we immediately think about some of our natural resources such as the underdeveloped land and beaches. In terms of resources, how can they be at their best when they are not properly maintained? With persistent issues such as litter, erosion and general misuse, it is very difficult to maximise their potential. Rather than take pride in our country’s natural beauty, many of our citizens choose to defile it and take it for granted.
With regard to the creation process, the country’s continued development over the years is indisputable. Resorts and tourist attractions have been enhanced to meet visitors’ needs in terms of safety, wheelchair access, and other predefined procedures to enrich the overall experience on the island. However, there are occasions where some critical aspects of this process are still being overlooked. This is also the main reason why so many of our historical landmarks are disregarded until the point of near ruin.
Another vital aspect of the industry to be considered, is the packaging of the product being offered. Although the foundation of the tourism product is the island’s natural beauty and the processes in place to develop it, the success of the final product will still be determined by its presentation. By far the most significant aspect of the product is the people.
It is our duty to depict our beautiful island in the most attractive way possible. How can this be achieved when sadly, far too many of our citizens look upon visitors as intruders who have an impact on their lives, even though this is far from the truth. Although it is recognised and reaffirmed throughout our country that tourism is our major industry and that we depend heavily on the revenue earned, those lingering condescending attitudes must change.
Regardless of the proud nature that was inherited from our ancestors as well as the fact that ours is a small island, we cannot allow any insecurities to colour our interaction with guests to our shores in a negative way. The approach must change! At this point, we commend the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. for the promotion – ‘I am Tourism’. This promotion is a reminder that everyone has a part to play in tourism on the island.
The tourism and hospitality industry is a double-edged sword. Consider Barbados and its culture as a product which is being offered; we give what we want to be accepted. Also, the visitors to the island desire our product because of our marketing efforts and accept what we are offering by travelling to our shores. When we look at it in that way, there will no doubt be increased pride on both sides: Barbadians because the product offered is unique and valuable; and the tourists because they were able to partake in such a wondrous experience. On the eve of the celebration of our 51st anniversary of Independence, let us work towards improvement in ourselves as individuals, and as a country.