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TOURISM MATTERS: Dishonesty will sully reputation

Adrian Loveridge

TOURISM MATTERS: Dishonesty will sully reputation

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I have for many years constantly wondered why seemingly simple problems associated with tourism do not get resolved. About three years ago, my wife and I took a cruise out of Barbados to a number of other Caribbean islands.
On returning to the Bridgetown Port, we were confronted with what can only be described as chaos in terms of taxi transportation. Finally, after haggling with a number of drivers, one recognized us and willingly took us home.
Fast forward to last week and a couple of our regular repeat guests arrived on a cruise ship and decided to take a taxi to the hotel to see us and have lunch.
They were given an “official” Barbados Port Inc. passenger despatch ticket (#3542) and quoted a fare of BDS$60.
On reaching us the lady taxi driver demanded US$60 or twice the agreed fare. On our intervention, our cherished visitors eventually handed over US$40.
She did not do herself any favours and appeared not to comprehend that if honesty had prevailed, our friends almost certainly would have asked her to ferry them back to the Port. There were no extenuating circumstances, they had no luggage or had asked to stop somewhere enroute.
Of course, I reported the incident to the security office at the Port and then tried to phone the number listed in the telephone directory or recent paid advertisements for the Bridgetown Port Taxi Co-op to see if this particular driver was a member.
Sadly, the number shown was connected to a fax machine so human response was impossible.
Several attempts were also made through the email address printed on the ticket ([email protected]) but these were all returned undelivered, so clearly this isn’t monitored either.
In the past I have noticed that the Port has won a number of awards, yet, with full knowledge of this continued unregulated situation, seems unwilling or unable to instigate an orderly and well managed system.
Perhaps Port officials should visit our airport where there are one or more taxi despatchers, a desk and prominent signage indicating official fares to various points.
Even before visitors arrive they can also look up the rates on the airport website.
Presumably, the Port extracts some sort of operating or licence fees from individual taxi drivers or cooperatives, in which case, at least part of this should be used to control the disorderly and confused status quo.
The Port has been given the vehicle registration number so we hope management takes some assertive action to prevent this greedy, thoughtless driver from being allowed to continue sullying the reputation of the destination.
Perhaps they will also finally address the overall problem with ground transportation. After all, isn’t that what good governance is all about?
Following lunch at the hotel, our local taxi driver returned the guests to their ship, charging them $45. Hopefully, they will not remember this short visit by the opportunist excesses of an individual, but by their overall experience.
Never before has it been so important to ensure that every visitor receives the very best care and attention that we can collectively muster, thereby making them our ambassadors abroad.