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EDITORIAL – Star service for the giving and sharing

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EDITORIAL – Star service for the giving and sharing

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Service which is rendered without joy helps neither the servant nor the served. But all other pleasures and possessions pale into nothingness before service which is rendered in a spirit of joy. – Mohandas Gandhi.
PROFESSOR?AVINASH PERSAUD HAS?OBSERVED that the “arrival experience” at Grantley Adams International Airport is a “struggle”. He has got “a sense of people who really don’t want [him] to be there somehow and [who try] to find reasons for [him] not to be there”.
Hard-hitting (quite out of the norm) at last weekend’s Caribbean Tourism Organization’s State Of The Industry Conference in St Martin, Professor Persaud let it be known that the malaise was not only at Grantley Adams: it was characteristic of “the average welcome” at every other Caribbean airport.
And he warned that this chronic complacency in regional tourism could be the death of us all. As argued by the professor, we are headed in the same direction with tourism as with the region’s failed sugar industry.
But are we really not up to scratch in our service to those who pay their hard-earned and scarce money and go to the trouble to visit our shores?
Is the international finance and public policy expert Mr Persaud also justified in thinking “sometimes” that we have “a tourism industry out of luck”?  Maybe this is the answer to why certain tourism projects have been finding it exceedingly difficult to get off the ground.
Recent history has taught us that things are less than perfect at our ports of entry. But without making any excuse for the behaviour of any of our officers at Customs or Immigration or making light of visitor complaints, we hesitate to go as far as the professor in sounding the death knell of our bread-and-butter tourism industry.
Certainly it is an exaggeration that our turquoise beaches are littered with trash. In fact, there’s still more than enough room for tourists and staycationing locals alike to bask on our beaches – except perhaps they are stationed on the West Coast and forced to flee the occasional waft of stench coming downwind of Mount Stinkeroo.
We are warmed by the smiles and friendly nature of our people in wooing visitors repeatedly to these shores.
We however share much of the concern of the professor on crime in the Caribbean. Admittedly, we do not live in a utopian world; there is crime everywhere. But it ought not to be as bloody as it has become in the islands – and far less it ought to be in the Barbados the globe has grown to know.
If we make our island homes safe for ourselves first of all, our visitors will be equally secure; and if we will hold our environment to the standard of cleanliness that is next to godliness, our tourists will continue to enjoy paradise.
Tourism has as much to do with sharing as with five-star service.