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Posted by:Apr 1st 2003, 05:34:22 pm
Fig Tree News TeamThis week's Bahama Journal

Small Hoteliers To Benefit From Technical Assistance

Facing increasing concerns regarding fallout from war, Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe today urged small hoteliers to place added attention on quality service.

During the unveiling of a Mobile Resource Center at the British Colonial Hilton today, Minister Wilchcombe said that the quality of the country's tourism product and its marketability is paramount.

"If there is one thing I am particularly concerned about, is the quality of our service,"Minister Wilchcombe said. "Many of our small hotel developers, particularly in our Family Islands, have done so with only the vision of having a small hotel or being involved in the hotel sector or recognizing that there is a need, but certainly not having the skills and for the most part not having the wherewithal to do it."

Funded by the Organization of American States Small Enterprise Program (STEP), the mobile center includes -but is not limited to - computers, scanners, printers and American Hotel/Motel Association training manuals.

The mobile center allows trainers in the ministry to island-hop to the facilities of small hoteliers.

After realizing that a walk-in technical center to be based here in New Providence would not be as convenient for small hoteliers who are scattered throughout the islands, officials literally went back to the drawing board, deciding on a portable resource center which would be more convenient for multi-island countries like the Bahamas.

"A walk-in technical center here in New Providence is very difficult because we all know that the Family Island small hotelier is pretty much doing everything and to take any important time away from his business - his customer - to come into Nassau for technical assistance and training, it's very expensive and it's not time efficient," said Craig Wood, manager of the Ministry of Tourism's Small Hotels Department.

Now, the Mobile Resource Center is the blueprint and policy to conduct mobile resource centers for the entire Caribbean, according to Cecil Miller, director of the Organization of American States Unit for Tourism.
Meanwhile, with war in the Middle East now a reality, Minister Wilchcombe said it is imperative that tourism officials work even harder in developing the industry.

He considers the Mobile Resource Centre a major step in the marketability of small hotels as they are an important component of the development of the tourism industry.

"When we talk about small hotels, we are really talking about the involvement of the indigenous Bahamian in the tourism sector. It is the area where Bahamians own the large majority of small hotels and are contributing more than in any time of our history to economic and social development. And so this is another step into the direction we must head because this is towards the overall improvement of our product and the quality of our service," Minister Wilchcombe said.

He also admitted that a lot has been taken for granted in the tourism industry.

"We have rested at times on our laurels, believing that all we have to do is say, 'come to the Bahamas.' But clearly, we must give more than what we have given and demand more from the people who deliver the service.

"And so in the future, we would be able to integrate the technology and the promotion of our number one industry and to ensure that our Family Islands get more exposure because I would like to see, where our Family Islands are able to stand alone, but as a part of our overall product, as New Providence has established itself and Grand Bahama is on the rebound," he said.

This mission is one that has been discussed for the last 30 years, but it's now time for action, Minister Wilchcombe said.

He believes that the magic of the Bahamian tourism product is diversity - diversity of the islands.

In his view, to succeed in marketing the country as a diverse one with multiple islands, small hoteliers throughout the islands must provide quality service.

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