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MONDAY MAN: On tourism’s frontline

Lisa King

MONDAY MAN: On tourism’s frontline

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Phillip Bostic has been on the front line of tourism for more than three decades and his confidence in the industry remains as strong as ever, despite the tough times.
In fact, Hilton Barbados is the only place he has worked since leaving school. He was a bellman for more than 20 years and is now the bell captain.
Since joining the hotel in 1979, Bostic has met many people and has developed friendships with many who often return and look for him, including celebrities.
He said most of these visitors spoke favourably of Barbados and were pleased with its development, its attractions and the friendliness of its people.
As a bellman, Bostic is among the first people visitors encounter at the hotel. He said his duties included taking guests to their rooms and finding out what requests they might have.
“You have to be knowledgeable of the island because the guests always have questions about the best attractions, what place would you recommend they eat and also about getting around the island,” he said.
To this end, Bostic has learnt about many places in Barbados and is well versed in where to get the best local dishes and places to visit. He said Oistins Bay Garden followed by Harrison’s Cave, are among the most popular sites for the tourists.
Bostic is adamant that even though the tourism industry is having some challenges, a turnaround is imminent.  
“A lot of people have confidence in Barbados and they continue to return,”?he said. “I speak to people daily and some of them have been coming for 15 years, some for 20. You look at the repeat persons and those who say it is the best place to come.
“I think the industry is going to rebound because we know how things are going outside of Barbados where a lot of people are being laid off and cannot travel. When the industry rebounds, we will have the capacity, but people just need to do renovations to the properties in anticipation of it.”  
He said Barbados would hold its market share because its selling point was its people and once they realized that, the country would move to higher heights.
Bostic, who is also president of the Council of Hotel and Restaurant Workers, said efforts were being made to position hotel workers to help improve the industry as well.  
The council meets every first Monday in the month to discuss the issues affecting the hotel sector, the workers and the way forward.
“One of the primary objectives is that we discuss things that affect individual hotels and see if it is something that is widespread in the industry, so if it is something negative it can be addressed,” he said.
A current initiative is for training of staff to improve the skills base so that when job opportunities come up, they can be filled from within.  
“When vacancies come up, you should never be seeing applications to the Chief Immigration Officer to go outside to fill those positions because they could not find a suitable applicant,” Bostic said.
He said the main issue affecting workers now was the shortened hours of work.  
“Tourism is not peaking like it was five years ago, and when an employer is looking at cutting cost, the first thing they do is look at the staff and how they can cut back there.”