November 19, 2013
Setting standards is one thing…

Tue Nov 19, 2013

Chief Executive Officer of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA) Glen Beache announced yesterday that his organization is working towards having legislation passed to govern standards within the tourism industry.{{more}}

It was also announced that very soon, the SVGTA will be issuing licences to taxi drivers who wish to operate within the industry, who attain certain minimum standards.

The efforts of the Tourism Authority are laudable and necessary for the overall growth and development of the tourism product of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Many of us have travelled outside of St Vincent and the Grenadines, so it is easy to understand why standards are important, especially when in a foreign land. As a potential visitor, one needs to feel confident that when a booking is made with a provider, the levels of service promised, are met or exceeded.

Certification and standards in the tourism industry serve as important tools for distinguishing among products and levels of service and for promoting competitiveness within the industry. According to the SVGTA, the standards will be applied to all products and services within the industry, including all tourism related accommodation, restaurants, tour guides, tour operators, taxi and other tourism related service providers.

Beache, at yesterday’s press conference, made it clear that standards are not being introduced to put anyone out of business, but in the interest of lifting the overall quality of the industry, for the good of the country.

Setting the standards is one thing, but policing them, to ensure that they, as legislated, are implemented and maintained, is another. One cannot help but reflect on how poorly enforced are the Litter Act and Noise Act, both of which were made law over 20 years ago. In relation to those Acts, those with the power to enforce the law are police officers and in the case of the Litter Act, special categories of public servants, such as public health inspectors and forestry officers. There does not seem to be, on the part of those so empowered, the will-power to bring charges against offenders.

Interestingly, the enforcement of the Litter and Noise Acts is important in helping to ensure that we have an attractive, clean, peaceful environment for visitors to enjoy. So, will it be different with the legislation being proposed?

Let’s hope that in crafting the tourism standards bill, that careful attention is paid not only to what are the required standards, but to giving teeth to the right people, the Tourism Ministry, the SVGTA and other people at the heart of the industry, to enforce the standards and apply sanctions and penalties when necessary.