Don’t be smug
Tourism chief warns against complacency
As the island continues to experience a favourable winter tourist season, tourism officials are being warned not to become complacent.
Chief Executive Officer of the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI) William “Billy” Griffith told Barbados TODAY it was important that those in the industry remained cognizant that the habits of today’s customers were not the same as those of 15 or 20 years ago.
He explained that while Barbados was regarded as a premium destination in the Caribbean, it was up against over 20 other destinations which were not involved in the tourism business three or four decades ago. With that increased competition, he said the island should continue to adapt and be innovative.
Griffith said exit surveys pointed to changes in how visitors travel around the island, with tourists renting “significantly more” than they did two decades ago, while the tour habits of cruise passengers had evolved over the years.
“That impacts taxi business,” Griffith stressed.
“If you look at the cruise passenger, for example, and the fact that there are significantly more tours going to specific places on the island, compared to years ago, it tells you that the vendor in the Pelican Village or in Bridgetown is not going to have the same experience that he did before.”
Therefore, he advised persons involved in the tourism industry to become familiar with the trends and to adapt accordingly to suit the customers’ needs.
Noting that potential tourists now had more holiday options than in the past, the BTMI executive said it was no longer a case where the customer was given something and he or she “must take it or else”.
He stated that price was a key factor that hoteliers and other service providers should pay attention to, explaining while the island remained a high-cost destination, the quality of service and product should match.
“It is not an easy situation because some islands are more high-cost than others . . . but the fact is that there are destinations out there that were considered mass-market destinations that have significantly higher quality hotels than in many of the traditional destinations at lower prices,” the top tourism executive said.
Griffith said he was pleased with “very encouraging” developments in the hotels, restaurants, tours and other service, highlighting the refurbishment of over 20 properties last year. He also singled out increased business in the villa market and residential product offerings.
Griffith said the BTMI would look to attract more business in the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibition (MICE) market, as well as the weddings and honeymoons and other niche markets. (MM)