Sandals Royal Bahamian has enrolled 50 of its staff into a soon-to-be-launched Spanish language course organized by the Bahamas Hotel Association (BHA), the property’s general manager told Guardian Business.
Patrick Drake said the all-inclusive resort made the formal commitment on Thursday.
The resort is one of several New Providence based hotels which have opted to enroll staff in the language learning courses in order to better serve an influx of Spanish-speaking tourists arriving to the country on Panama-based Copa Airlines.
“I hear it’s close to 1,000 from the New Providence hotels that are interested in the training, so that’s excellent. Spanish is the biggest focus right now because of the push with Copa Airlines and Latin American business,” Drake told Guardian Business.
Officials from the BHA did not elaborate on the initiative when asked for comment.
“We are undertaking a program in this area and still working on its implementation,” said Frank Comito, the BHA’s executive vice-president.
Comito said the BHA would formally announce the initiative at a press conference later this month.
Concerns about a Spanish-English language barrier have emerged since Latin and South American tourists have begun flocking to The Bahamas’ shores via airlift from Copa Airlines. According to the Ministry of Tourism, air arrivals into Nassau via Copa Airlines rose 38 percent last year.
Arrivals to the Caribbean from the Latin American market are expected to grow eight percent every year, highlighting the need for local hotels to ensure that their staff have the necessary foreign language skills.
Drake said the bulk of Sandals Royal Bahamian’s market comes from the United States and Canada, followed by European countries like Germany and France.
While the property has seen a small number of Brazilian guests vacation at the property recently, Drake said Sandals has yet to fully penetrate the Latin American market.
“We’re getting a small pick-up; we’re seeing some Brazilians, but I don’t think that our end of the market, the all-inclusive, [is what they’re after],” Drake said.
The Nassau Guardian
Published: April 2, 2012