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Tourism cuts ‘could hurt island’s image’

rhondathompson, [email protected]

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No cuts, please.
Barbados’’ tourism industry has been told not to slash prices to get more business in these tough economic times.
One reason is that deep cuts can do some damage to their image as premier product/service providers.
Another is that heavy discounting will mean below-par revenues for the industry and the Treasury for many years.
Two prominent figures in the hospitality industry, Hugh Darley and Alex Sanguinetti, made these recommendations and explanations yesterday when the Barbados Hotel & Tourism Association held its third quarterly general meeting at Hilton Barbados.
Orlando-based IDEAS Inc.’s Darley, who designed amusement rides at Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch, referred to the Sandals hotel chain’s 60 per cent discount for clients.
His advice to local tourism operations was: “Don’t do that deep-seated discount. You never get it back. I think it’s going to be really tough to go back to the 100 per cent Sandals branding when they did . . . sell it for 60 per cent off.”
He said tourism operations should never “attack” their price but work hard to give clients “so much extra value” for their money.
Sanguinetti, director and chief executive officer of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, said hotels and other tourism-related businesses should focus on giving added service and product value and avoid cutting rates.
“. . . Once you lower your rates, all of the experts have said in this industry that it will take six to eight years for hotel rates to return to the 2008 level, based on prior experience,” he told the meeting.
“That means this industry and the governments are going to look forward to less revenue . . .”
He said people should not be misled into thinking that Caribbean tourism was doing well simply because some countries were reporting increased arrivals.
The truth was that tourist spending “has been down across the Caribbean”, he said.
Sanguinetti and Darley were among the people taking part in a panel discussion Surviving The Current Economic Climate.
Another participant, Rosalind Jackson, of Caribbean Catalyst, said both employers and workers have to do more to help businesses pull through.
She suggested workers “have a more participatory approach to the job”, find ways to improve their value to the organisation and “explore other activities for earning a living” without giving up their jobs.
Employers needed to “dig deep” and provide “true” leadership, she said, adding that they should be visible and available to staff and customers and “walk the floor” rather than rely solely on middle managers. (TY)