The Bahamas must do more to maximize the value for money of its tourism brand through the improvement of its human capital if it is to compete with top regional competitors, according to a panel of local tourism and private sector stakeholders.
Speaking at the 2015 Tourism Symposium, Director General of Tourism Joy Jibrilu stated that collaboration between the Ministry of Tourism and industry stakeholders is vital in addressing the most common complaints and concerns directed in the sector, which focus on high costs, visitor harassment and the general cleanliness of the country, particularly New Providence.
“It’s one thing having wonderful bricks and mortar. We have to provide the level of service that matches it. This is a collective responsibility, not a matter of blame but about finding how we can work together,” she said.
Despite the concerns, Jibrilu said she had high hopes for the industry in 2015 through projects including the redevelopment of downtown Nassau and opportunities for product diversification through alternative forms of tourism, such as sports tourism, ecotourism and religious tourism.
Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) CEO Edison Sumner stressed that engendering a stronger sense of ownership in the tourism workforce is vital to both local entrepreneurship and improving the quality of service and visitor satisfaction for the country’s tourists, given that The Bahamas would never be able to match the price point of its top competitors.
“We need to develop training and education standards for those involved in the service sector in the country. We’re talking about training the workforce to remain competitive, but developing the workforce does not only mean catering to those who are working or seeking to work in the service sector.
“We need to develop our workforce to be seen as partners in the tourism industry, rather than just service people,” said Sumner, adding that The Bahamas desperately needs to put greater effort into redeveloping New Providence’s seaports to better reflect the increasing number of cruise ship visitors.
Executive Vice President of the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Suzanne Pattusch similarly felt that the sector needs to invest in more comprehensive education and training programs to improve the quality of service and the country’s overall tourism product.
The Nassau Guardian
Published: Januray 23, 2015