By NATARIO McKENZIE
A FORMER tourism minister yesterday said it will be "very important" for Atlantis and Baha Mar to differentiate themselves and prevent visitor 'cannibalisation'
Vincent Vanderpool Wallace, founder of the Bedford Baker Group consultancy, said the Bahamas has "no choice" but to grow both mega resorts given their importance to Bahamian economic growth and jobs.He added that their successful co-existence depended heavily on the extent to which the two resorts can "differentiate" their product offering and target different visitor markets.
"I think Baha Mar has substantial potential," Mr Vanderpool-Wallace said. "We can see there is noting wrong with the physical product; it's just a matter of persuading the world that they ought to be able to choose Atlantis and Baha Mar. "It can't be an 'either or' decision; it has to be both. I think the intent is to move it in that direction so that you can come today to Atlantis, and the next week come to Baha Mar if you are so inclined to make those types of decisions. It's such a significant investment with such a significant potential that we have no choice but to grow both."
Mr Vanderpool-Wallace underscored the need for the two resorts to differentiate their offerings. "You have to begin to tell the customer that you are not making a choice between two similar entities, but you are making a choice between two separate kinds of experiences," he explained.
"I think it is going to be very important to both sides to begin to figure out ways of how they are going to differentiate themselves; one from the other - if someone can see there is a reason to come to Atlantis this month and Baha Mar the next."
Mr Vanderpool Wallace added that there needed to be greater differentiation of the tourism offering within the Bahamas generally, arguing: "We have reduced the Bahamas to a singularity, meaning Nassau/Paradise Island as opposed to the islands of the Bahamas.
"You cannot be the same thing every where for everybody. You have to be differentiated to give people reasons to choose other places to go. As long as people begin to say 'seen one, seen them all', then you have a problem because people begin to see it as a single destination."