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December 5, 2014
Tourism stakeholders advised to get registered with SVGTA

Operators within the tourism sector have been advised that if they do not register with the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA) and receive a licence, their property or services will not be recommended by the SVGTA.

Glen Beache, chief executive officer of the SVGTA, speaking at a press conference earlier {{more}}this week, however emphasized that the standards being put in place within the tourism sector are not designed to put anyone out of business, but rather to make St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) more marketable on the world scale.

He said in 2013, legislation was passed for tourism standards to be introduced for persons operating within the tourism sector. These standards came into effect on November 1, 2014 and persons who have gone through training and registration will be issued licences next week.

Elaborating, Beache noted that of the 75 properties that were pre-registered prior to the legislation being passed, only 38 officially registered, 37 were inspected and 35 will be issued licences in the coming week.

The CEO stressed the importance of hoteliers registering and becoming licensed.

“If you do not get licensed, the Tourism Authority will not be marketing your property. You will not be listed in the ‘Do 32’. We will not be recommending any visitor stay at your property. It’s as simple as that,” he said.

While noting that it is not the intention of the SVGTA to put anyone out of business, Beache spoke of some of the minimum standards required, which include the availability of hot running water in the kitchen; staff wearing hair nets while cooking and the availability in rooms of towels that do not have holes.

“You’d be surprised at what we met in some properties,” he said.

“We inspected one property where they did not change the soap after somebody left a room because the soap was not finished. Now this is the sort of thing that we have to deal with. I give this example so people can understand what we’re trying to do and what we’re putting in place.”

Beache also shared how impressed he was with taxi operators, who were part of training sessions done by the SVGTA.

He revealed that of the 112 taxi operators that registered, 99 will be issued their licences. Furthermore, he noted that nine taxi operators on Bequia registered and will be trained in January 2015.

“The taxi operators have really supported the tourism authority with this and I think the majority of them have understood,” the CEO said.

Beache also stressed that all taxi drivers be registered and licensed, as they can be charged for operating without a tourism licence. Furthermore, cruise ships will be advised to use only licensed taxi operators.

Short-term rental companies, tour guides and tour operators are also included in the set of persons expected to register and be licensed.

Beache told reporters that of 25 application forms sent out to rental operators, only five submitted their applications and will be licensed.

While over 100 tour guides were trained, only 71 will be issued their licence and of the 22 tour operators who received applications, only 11 registered and will receive licences.

“We’ve been speaking about this for three years. Legislation was passed last year in September, and you were given until November 1 of this year. You’ve had a year to prepare,” Beache said.

“Let me put it out there in this way: this is part of your business. Just like you have to pay salaries, bills and so on to keep your business running, you have to do this to keep your business running, no questions about it. We will be listing those who have their licence. Taxi drivers, tour operators, short-term car rentals and so on. If you do business with the Government now, and you are not registered, you won’t be getting that business from Government.”

The CEO noted that it is better for persons to come on board, particularly since one of the biggest selling points when speaking to airlines and cruise ships is the fact that these standards are in place.

“These are the sorts of things that we have to get right. We’re up against every country in the world and we can market St Vincent and the Grenadines as much as we possibly can; if we don’t get it right here on the ground, then it makes no sense,” he said.

The legislation allows a three-month period for persons to take the necessary steps in order to become licensed to operate. Persons will not be charged within this time period.(BK)