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Tourism product needs improving

Tourism product needs improving

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Soaring oil prices have had a crippling effect on many industries around the world, and the Caribbean Tourism Industry is not immune to the domino effect that this black gold triggers.{{more}}

A respected Caribbean hotelier is, however, convinced that good tourism products can weather the storm.

“If you have a product that is not good, and you are in a sort of borderline situation, it is going to get worse for you,” was the straight shooting comment from Peter Odle, president of the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA), who spoke to SEARCHLIGHT last Tuesday, when he visited these shores to meet with members of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Hotel Association.

Odle told SEARCHLIGHT that the reality of the external pressures of oil prices and the resulting decrease in airline flights are here to stay, with no reprieve in sight. He, however, contends that the challenges are an opportunity for hotels to step up their game and still succeed.

“Once we get these things absolutely spot on, I think you are going to find that we are able to weather the storm,” Odle said.

When he addressed the hotel association members at the Sunset Shores Hotel conference room, Odle said that even with the present challenges facing the industry, Tourism is still the way to go.

“There is no other game in town,” he said.

Odle, who owns the renowned 76-room Mango Bay Hotel and three other small properties in Barbados, and was in 2000 recognized by his fellow Caribbean hoteliers as the “Caribbean Hotelier of the Year”, re-emphasized the importance of proper service in the hotel industry.

He noted that a property that isn’t too well set together could get away with that, if the service is of the highest standard.

“Too many times I have gone into properties around the Caribbean…the ones that really bother me are the ones where not only the physical structure is not right but you can see that from the management back down is not right,” Odle said.

He elaborated, when he spoke to SEARCHLIGHT, how important it is to stress the need for service of the highest quality.

He said that, slowly, there is a changing of attitude among people in the Caribbean as it regards service. He said that one of the hindrances in the industry was that people felt that by going the extra mile to please their guests, reaching out to make their stay memorable, that they were in some way fueling a slavery mentality.

“I think the leaders of the region…some of the leaders themselves had problems with the whole concept of Tourism and the whole concept of service and servitude, I honestly believe that. But, slowly, they are coming to realize that this does not make any sense, because at the end of the day we are blessed with certain natural attributes, then you use them to the best of your advantage and for the good of your people,” he said.

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