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Service industry key to tourism growth

Good service is key to the continuing success of The Bahamas' tourism industry, say sector leaders. Pictured: Panelists included (from left) former Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing; Vaughn Roberts, vice president of corporate finance and treasury at Baha Mar; former Minister of Tourism, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace; and President and managing director of Atlantis, Paradise Island George Markantonis. 

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TheBahamasInvestor.com
Friday, September 20, 2013
Friday, September 20, 2013

Good service is key to the continuing success of The Bahamas’ tourism industry, say sector leaders.


A panel of industry experts spoke about the need to improve standards in the hospitality industry during a conference at Atlantis, Paradise Island yesterday with former Minister of State for Finance Zhivargo Laing saying he believed the economy could grow by 1 per cent simply by improving standards and achieving “service excellence”.

Vaughn Roberts, vice president of corporate finance and treasury at Baha Mar, said he would like to see “a culture where there is a national commitment to service” and said the new $3.5 billion Baha Mar development in Cable Beach, combined with the expansion of the international airport, which are both expected to drive up visitor numbers, provided a “unique opportunity to recaliberate what we offer as a destination.”

Fellow panelist at the College of the Bahamas Culinary and Hospitality Management Institute Conference, Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace said the country had a well-established tourism industry that was now benefitting from a wealth of local talent at the entry level. “We have come a very long way in The Bahamas. We have been at this tourism business for a very long time,” he said. “We are so much better at getting our best and brightest people into the sector.”

According to the former Minister of Tourism, getting the right staff is crucial to the growth of the industry through word of mouth and repeat visits. “The critical element of success in tourism is how you make people feel,” he said. “Personality is critically important. We need to make sure we get extraordinary service from ordinary people.”

Vanderpool-Wallace called for more emphasis on this aspect of service in industry training programmes and said everyone in the country had a role to play in securing the future of tourism. “Tourism is the only business on the planet where every single person in the country is involved. We are talking about quality of service on a national level.”

President and managing director of Atlantis, Paradise Island George Markantonis agreed and pointed out that tourists were now more discerning than ever, thanks to internet research and the ease of travel. “We are now competing with the entire globe because travel is that much easier and that much faster,” he said. “[Tourists] know what sophistication is because they have experienced it themselves. It is no longer good for us to sit in a cocoon.”

New gaming legislation could pave the way for significant growth in The Bahamas' tourism industry, according to senior vice president and general counsel for Baha Mar Uri Clinton who says a more modern gaming industry, which encompasses new technology, would give The Bahamas the edge over its competitors.

The Bahamas delegation to the 68th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly left for New York, September 22, 2013, with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell serving as head of the delegation, until Prime Minister Perry Christie arrives in New York September 27. Pictured: Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell speaks at a press conference, September 22, 2013. Also pictured at the press conference, held in the Diplomatic Lounge of the Lynden Pindling International Airport, is Minister of Social Services and Community Development Melanie Sharon Griffin. (BIS Photo / Eric Rose)

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