June 07, 2019
Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar told Grand Bahamian graduates of the Bahamahost program that The Bahamas has to find a way to distinguish itself from other destinations offering the same product to the same markets.
During graduation ceremonies on Thursday, May 30, 2019, in the ballroom of Grand Lucayan resort, Minister D’Aguilar told the 247 graduates that being able to have The Bahamas stand alone as a first class tourism destination will require them to implement all that they have learned in the Bahamahost program.
“We in the Bahamas boast of beautiful beaches, turquoise seas and year round sunshine,” said Minister D’Aguilar. “The truth is, we have the right to boast. Fifty-four shades of blue and the many great wonders of The Bahamas, cannot be compared to any other land on the planet. We are the magical islands of The Bahamas.
“Our reality check, however, is that every other country in the region boasts – as we do – of having the friendliest people, the same brilliant sunshine, magical waters, and majestic beaches. We in The Bahamas do not have a monopoly on sun, sand and sea.
“Like us, many of the countries in our region have capitalized on these same natural resources to build a tourism-based economy, and these same destinations in our region are giving us stiff competition.”
The Tourism Minister said that what they are realizing at the Ministry of Tourism more each day is that once the gift of the Bahamas is unwrapped by every visitor and they get the full experience of the visit, the value of the gift that’s presented sometimes leaves much to be desired.
He said The Bahamas of the 21st Century must daily rise to meet the ever-changing needs of our customers.
“So, here is the key question of the evening: If the tourist destinations of our region all have sun, sand and sea in abundance, how can we in The Bahamas possibly compete and outpace our competitors,” the Minister asked, challenging the graduates.
He submitted that in order to accomplish that task there are two lanes that must be navigated successfully.
Firstly, he offered that successful tourism must be about the delivery of ‘superb, outstanding, extraordinary, stupendous service.’
“Ladies and gentlemen, I put it to you that the delivery of quality service is a critical area in which we in The Bahamas can compete hands down. How do we attain this lofty reputation for world-class service? Through commitment.
“It takes each of us to make a commitment to deliver quality service on our jobs, each day, to every customer, every time, be they tourist or local.”
Minister D’Aguilar noted that today’s travelers are no longer looking to park themselves in a lounge chair on a beach and chill out in the sun for their entire vacation. He said millennial travelers are a totally different breed, seeking one of a kind, off the beaten path, transformative experiences.
This change in traveler demand, according to the Minister, has placed the Family Islands center stage.
“Today’s visitors are looking for the kind of vacation experiences that are offered right here in Grand Bahama, an island with a great city, with family island charm.”
A second suggestion the Minister made on how The Bahamas can distinguish its tourism product from other destinations is that of ‘entrepreneurship.’
“What are those areas of the Grand Bahama tourism sector that can accommodate new businesses? What entrepreneurial opportunities out there that might add value to the visitor experience? When people travel, they want to take home some memento to remind them of their trip. They’re not looking for the mass-produced, cookie-cutter souvenirs. They’re seeking authentic products, with excellent craftsmanship. Offering authentic products and services must be the goal then.
“Graduates, I invite you to look around you. Observe what is in your environment, your culture, your heritage that you can capitalize on, to create and meet the demand of your visitors.
“Graduates of Bahamahost, you have acquired the skills and the know-how, to develop your personal brand and to deliver outstanding customer service. You are now equipped to take the quality of service that you deliver to the next level.”
Minister D’Aguliar noted that for over 40 years, the tourism industry-training program has maintained a high level of commitment to covering the Islands of The Bahamas with its signature training program, Bahamahost. He pointed out that the program has survived and thrived, preparing at least three generations of tourism and hospitality professionals throughout the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.
The program, he said, has always sought to cultivate a healthy, national identity, where every citizen promotes and contributes to communal values.
“Graduates, your successful completion of this over 40-hour training program is evidence that you understand the national goal of the Bahamahost Program and that you are fully prepared to return to your work place to give an even higher level of quality service.”
By Andrew Coakley