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Historic City a tourism gold mine

shadiasimpson, [email protected]

Historic City a tourism gold mine

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A TOURISM RESEARCHER and lecturer has advised Barbados’ tourism authorities to target new categories of visitors and develop the kinds of experiences demanded by modern travellers.
Dr Sherma Roberts, speaking last Tuesday during the Broad Street Journal’s breakfast club meeting at the Savannah Beach Hotel, said the Caribbean had continuously been “responsive” rather than visionary in the way it approached the industry.
“Positioning for the upsurge” in the sector required a level of “audacity”, she said.
The lecturer and programme leader for the tourism and hospitality management master’s programme at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, questioned whether Barbados had a clear brand, which was easily identifiable like that of Paris or New York.
She also suggested that Barbados should go after the German and Chinese markets.
“The UK is the fourth largest high-spending market but Germans for the last five years have been the consistent high spenders in global tourism. My question is if the Germans are spending more, why [are we] not pursuing that market?
“In 2013 China is going to be the biggest consumers of tourism and they’re also going to be the biggest intakers of tourism. I’m not saying we should go to China, but can we come up with a framework or modality that will allow us to partner with another destination that attracts Chinese visitors and then bring them to Barbados?” Roberts queried.
She suggested that Barbados develop the products which would attract the younger, culture-driven “millennial” visitor who travelled three to five times per year and spent substantially.
She said the World Heritage Site could be used to create a unique, unrivalled experience that was a “must” for visitors, much like the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the gondolas in Venice.
Roberts also suggested that employees in the tourism sector had to be empowered to make decisions and deliver the excellent service the new consumer expected.
Furthermore, she recommended that employee innovation be encouraged.
“When a barman mixes a drink and that drink becomes your signature drink, that barman needs to be paid for his intellectual property . . . ,” she said.
Roberts called for businesspeople in the tourism industry to share their knowledge with each other.
“In the Caribbean, businesspeople love to hide. Everything is very hush-hush, but if we begin to share the knowledge that we have, then we collectively, cumulatively as a destination become a lot stronger,” she said.
The lecturer also noted that there was a need for a “political intervention” in terms of regulation and legislation.
“We are at a crucial moment and we can’t have anachronistic public sector architecture in an era that has moved on really fast,” she said. (NB)