THE EDITOR: I recently spent a week in Barbados watching the West Indies dominate a cricket test match against England. The weather was great and although the visiting supporters made up 80 per cent of the crowd, everyone seemed to be on their best behaviour.
You see, Barbados has generated the majority of its income from tourism for over 100 years and has developed the industry considerably over that time period. A mainstay of their tourism strategy is to encourage an ever-growing awareness of the need for the local population to constantly show their overseas guests a high level of courtesy and civility. Of course, we should all be showing a high level of courtesy and civility to everyone we interact with, not only our visitors.
Now, I stayed in a popular 3 ½ star hotel on the South Coast called Coconut Court and here are some of the amenities and activities that were available on a daily basis. First up, one of the owners has a large private tour bus and he takes visitors all over the island, on a variety of tours, where he gives colourful commentary on places of interest. On Sunday nights a large motion picture screen is erected on the beach for movie night. On one day of the week a volleyball net is erected, and teams of visitors are formed, who play against each other. The action is filmed and shown on the main bar’s television screen in the evening. Everyday there are shopping tours and both daytime and moonlight boat cruises available. The bar and restaurant in the hotel are first class and there are a number of other top-class bars and restaurants, within walking distance. The hotel managers hold a weekly party on Tuesday nights to welcome new guests to the hotel.
The staff are all unfailingly polite and helpful. In this regard, we had an issue with the toilet in our bathroom fixed within half an hour. The hotel is generally full or nearly full all winter long as their marketing staff regularly attend major travel shows and have made deep connections with travel agents in North America, UK and Europe, among others.
The point I am trying to make here is that tourism or the hospitality industry is a business, like any other. It is not a convenient tap to turn on when your oil and gas prices go south.
Gregory Wight, Maraval