Wednesday, April 24, 2024

TOURISM MATTERS: Lost by a slowness to act


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One thing the last few months have taught me, as if I really needed reminding, is that however much you change the structure of an organisation, if you cannot fundamentally improve the way things are done within it, then very little has been accomplished.

Implementation, or rather the lack of it in a timely manner, stands out as one of the biggest single impediments to revitalising our tourism industry.

If we are ever going to ever recover lost market share then we urgently need to practise proactive rather than reactive strategies and ensure any programmes and policies are implemented sufficiently early enough to make a positive difference.

It should not, and frankly cannot, take weeks and sometimes months to ensure corrections to national websites are effected, if we stand any chance of playing catch-up with our competitors. All too frequently by the time the fundamental changes are made those previously interested have turned off and probably chosen an alternative product or destination.

Delays in correcting information online also lead directly to reducing the booking window for securing flights at the best possible fares with the risk of making the destination more expensive than it needs to be.

Stale-dated websites also demonstrate that those entrusted in guiding our tourism industry are perhaps not as dedicated as they should be in the national interest. While an entity may take on the trappings of a private sector driven entity, if the culture of how it operates does not significantly change, then have we really moved forward?

Of course, budget or financial challenges may play a part in this, but that is why it is even more important to focus on what can be achieved at little or no cost and co-operative projects with the private sector.

I have touched on this subject so many times before, but failed dismally in convincing those entrusted with policy planning to take the desperately required steps to remedy a multitude of social media errors and omissions.

To repeat, there are enough talented, available tech-savvy people here right on our doorstep to ensure all aspects of the way we communicate and portray our product across every market is achieved in the most enticing way.

When the bulk of the marketing budget is spent on directing people to particular websites and Facebook pages, those mediums should be in pristine condition and the potential visitor should not be met with links that simply do not work and/or outdated information.

Graphic examples include the return of the Delta nonstop service from Atlanta from this Thursday and a new service from New York. Neither are highlighted on the national website or listed among the airlines servicing Barbados. Yet a staggering 27 months after the service was terminated, a direct service with American from Dallas/Fort Worth is still shown.

What can be the real cost of making these adjustments when compared with the airlift options it presents to our North American market which could generate increased visitor numbers either for leisure or business? It may appear an insignificant oversight, but this is just one of many.


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