Connecting with tourism
New programme to focus on importance of industry
A programme to rejuvenate Barbados’ tourism product and create a heightened awareness about the importance of the industry will be implemented later this year.
The National Tourism Host Programme (NTHP) – an attempt to address deficits in research and to get the population more connected with the tourism product – will be launched on October 4 at Queen’s Park.
“Over the years, we have seen a disconnect develop between the people and the product. We have also had a deficit in researching the product because the industry is . . . an excellent product and it is the only export product that every single Barbadian can sell. You do not have to be qualified to sell it; you just have to be a Barbadian to sell it,” Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner said at a press conference today to give details on next month’s 22nd Organization of American States (OAS) Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-Level Authorities on Tourism.
“Thus, our recognition is that at this juncture in our industry, we need to have a more concerted effort placed on developing that product and making it a competitive one, because the human resource element of the tourism product has only been addressed at the expertise level of the hotel industry. But, having a nation wide approach to educating and in a very informal way training Barbadians about the product that they are selling has never been done and it has taken us two years to get this done.”
Sandiford-Garner said officials sought best practices from The Bahamas and very highly developed tourism destinations in designing the programme.
The NTHP aims to improve the relationship between guests and the Barbadian public, improve the quality of guests’ experience, ensure guests are provided with accurate and useful information, provide those persons employed in the sector with the information necessary to fully satisfy the needs of guests, develop other systems to support the continued success of the industry and provide employers with the tools necessary to orient employees.
“It is a project that aims to include every single Barbadian in the tourism industry, in terms of making them feel as if they own the industry. This is a 60-year-old industry in this country and we have never really seriously looked at developing the product,” she said.
“Barbados is not like Jamaica or other islands where the tourism industry is separated from the rest of the country. Our country is so small that everybody in Barbados at some point or another is involved in the tourism industry and when you think about it, it means then that every single Barbadian markets the product. It also says that you don’t have to be qualified to sell the country’s largest foreign exchange earner. The smallest child to the oldest adult markets Barbados, yet it is the most important industry.”
A National Tourism Task Force has been created to facilitate the smooth transition from the development phase of the programme to implementation.
That task force is chaired by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and has broad-based representation from the Barbados Christian Council, the Barbados Tourism Authority, the Tourism Development Corporation, the Congress of Trade Unions and Staff Associations of Barbados, the Barbados Private Sector Association, the Royal Barbados Police Force and the National Institute for Service Excellence.