Will Black Sands tourism concept work for SVG?
EDITOR: Construction has started on the development of the Black Sands Resort and Villas at Peters Hope. This resort is reported to have 400 rooms, including 50 villas, upon completion. However, like any type of development, it is meted out with a bit of skepticism. For me, the most fascinating part (which has been a cause of apprehension by some), is found in its concept, which is unconventional.
The concept is featuring a black sand beach as a way to attract visitors to our shores. As much as I love our black sand beaches, can this work as a selling point?
Surely it is quite unorthodox, as the Caribbean region is known for 3S tourism; Sun, Sea and Sand. Personally, I think that in order to sell a niche product, which in this case is the concept of a black sand beach; there must be a specific group of people to whom this product is aimed. Therefore, I am to assume that the company will be targeting persons who are interested in seeing the wonders of a black sand beachs and possibly seeking and learning about the benefits of the minerals found in the sand that was produced by our volcano. If this is the target market of the company, they may have to incorporate health and wellness along with education as part of its product. Corporate Social Responsibility may also be at the forefront of its mission.
Some people may look at this as being simply ludicrous! Who would ever be interested in visiting a Caribbean destination that does not have white sand beaches or clear turquoise water, reflected by azure blue skies? How can we compete with other countries who market their destination on the concept of Sun, Sea and Sand? To answer this question, we must realize that not all Caribbean destinations incorporate 3S tourism as part of their appeal. For some, their natural resources cannot support the development of a 3S tourism product. Case in point is Dominica, which does not have a continuous expanse of white sand beaches because of the island’s volcanic nature. However, they have used their resources to target those persons interested in nature-based tourism. Hence, they are known as The Nature Isle. They target the nature lovers; those persons interested in their hot springs, volcanoes, water falls, hiking trails and greenery. The private sector has even supported this tourism product by offering eco-friendly accommodation.
Think about it, not all destinations have white sand beaches and not everyone is interested in this form of tourism. So we have alternative forms of tourism like ecotourism, health tourism, MICE tourism, cultural tourism, food tourism et cetera, which usually makes up the destination’s tourism product, based on the resources that the destination has at its disposal.
Notwithstanding, various tourism products can work in one destination. So, if Black Sands Resorts and Villas is to be successful, their target must be specific, because they are not offering the “traditional” Caribbean paradise. It seems as though their target market would be persons who are interested in relaxation, rejuvenation and holistic wellbeing. Whoever believes that there is not a market for this type of tourism product may not be well informed. With all this being said; it is the company’s efforts to tap into this market.
This type of product must be supported by the amenities and product offering of the resort and the resources of the destination. Additionally, this type of market offers some diversification to our tourism product and will increase the room capacity on our island. It will also employ locals. Moreover, it would be a dream to see Vincentians in top management. Hopefully, this can be the reality. Furthermore, this may be a great opportunity to showcase and offer a unique Vincentian experience; which caters to our local cuisine, entertainment, culture and natural beauty.
The opportunity is there. Let’s see how Black Sands will perform. For now, I am cautiously optimistic!