The Bahamas must continue to “ace” its tourism competition through superior customer service and identifying new entrepreneurial activities that appeal to visitors, a Cabinet minister is urging.
Dionisio D’Aguilar, minister of tourism and aviation, told teachers attending the 16th Education Industry Internship Programme hosted by the Bahamas Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) that The Bahamas needed to both maintain its current growth momentum and find new ways to exploit tourism so that more Bahamians benefited from an improved quality of life.
He added that The Bahamas needed to continue to “ace” tourism competitors by developing a reputation as the destination with the best customer service hospitality, while also preparing more of its citizens to be able to recognise and/or identify the multiple economic opportunities in the industry.
With 6.6m visitors coming to The Bahamas annually, Mr D’Aguilar said: “We have to welcome them, transport them, lodge them, engage them in fun, memorable activities, rejuvenate them, provide retail opportunities for them, and the list goes on.
He added that additional business opportunities available for Bahamian entrepreneurs range from adventure tours to the wellness industry; island-hopping excursions; authentic souvenirs; culinary tourism; business opportunities linked to agriculture and fisheries, especially those involving organic products; and family entertainment.
“Visitors tend to travel with their families meaning that we need more businesses catering to family entertainment,” Mr D’Aguilar said. “What is there for visitors to do when it rains? Emerging entrepreneurs, put on your thinking caps. Visitors want mementos to show their friends that they’ve been to The Bahamas, but not just any kind of mementos. They want high quality, superbly crafted, authentic souvenirs. The raw materials for authentic souvenirs are all around us in our environment.
“Adventure tours with a thrill, tapping into the wellness market; bird-watching; heritage tourism are all business ideas with lots of potential. Then there is volunteer tourism. There are a lot of conscientious travellers who want to give back to the community in the host countries they travel to. Imagine developing a vacation package that combines touristic activities and volunteer work with a charitable organisation or an agency that focuses on caring for the environment.”
Mr D’Aguilar said culinary tourism was another area “ripe” with potential, and added: “Ask Goombay House and any of the local tours that have integrated food tasting. We need to feed the hundreds of thousands of guests who stay in our resorts, hotels and guest houses.
“Today’s travellers have a definite preference for food made from organic produce. At this moment, we are importing close to 100 percent of the food consumed in the country. The field of agriculture and fisheries is wide open for development. So is landscaping. One of the strengths of our destination is that we have multiple islands. An excursion that offers guests the opportunity to island hop is a winning business idea.”
The Industry Internship Programme is a partnership between the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Tourism, the BHTA and the University of The Bahamas. It is designed to provide educators with hands-on experience in the tourism industry in an effort to enhance classroom delivery.