Hotelier: Develop niche areas to improve sector

shadiasimpson, shadiasimpson@nationnews.com

Added 23 October 2012

reneecoppin

POLICYMAKERS AND KEY PLAYERS in the tourism industry should come together and develop niche areas to drive the sector and save it from fading, according to Renee Coppin, Intimate Hotels of Barbados’ chairperson. Coppin told BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY the island was missing the boat when it comes to niche areas in tourism and this issue should be addressed with urgency. “We are a small destination . . . we need a few key events that we can plan and execute well to bring people to Barbados consistently. From a small hotel’s perspective, one of the areas I would love to see focus on is sports tourism,” she said. She said while weddings and honeymoons were “a very big market” here, more attention should be paid to “the low-hanging fruits”. “To me, sports tourism is one of those low-hanging fruits. We don’t necessarily have to host a big event like a Word Cup. We have to look for small niche events at strategic times where we can fill our hotels,” suggested Coppin, and Barbados had the right climate and “reasonably” good infrastructure to support those areas. “That is a way of driving incremental business to the hotels and to Barbados and those groups and people that come here will spend and they will bring their families. That is one area we are passionate about where I feel that we are really missing the boat. “And it is something [where] we could so easily implement a few strategic programmes; we don’t have to start large,” explained Coppin. Recently, there has been lots of talk about whether Barbados should allow casino gambling on ships while they were in the island’s waters. Asked if the introduction of casinos on the island could be one area to develop, Coppin said  while she did not see it as “a critical niche”, it would be something people at the high end of the market would enjoy. Coppin remained optimistic that the small hotels on the island would weather the ongoing economic downtown and “come out of this recession in another three years very, very strong”. However, for this to happen, she said more needs to be done. “I think there needs to be more action and less talk. I think we’ve had enough white paper studies and all those things that are on shelves creating weight. “We need to take them and execute them. On a national level we need to be doing more to involve Barbadians on a whole. I feel like we are losing this ‘tourism is our business’ thing,” she said. (MM)

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