February 17, 2006
Stakeholders discuss issues affecting tourism

Last week a number of key tourism stakeholders in Bequia discussed issues affecting the tourism investment climate on that Grenadine island, at a consultation organised by Executive Director Suzanne Joachim of SVG’s National Investment Promotions Inc. and chaired by Dr. Auliana Poon of Tourism Intelligence International (TII).

The meeting was held on Tuesday, January 23rd, at the Gingerbread Restaurant. Representing government entities were Kenrick Frederick of the Customs Department and the Deputy Director of the Directorate for Grenadines Affairs, Herman Belmar. {{more}}From the private sector were representatives of the Bequia Tourism Association, Antoinette Cozier Simmons, Lucille Cozier, Angel Bristol and Lubin Ollivierre; Nicola Redway of the Bequia Sailing Club Easter Regatta Committee; and a number of stakeholders from the land-based and marine tourism sectors, including restaurateur Angela Hinkson, hoteliers Pat Mitchell, Christian Pasquarelli and Lars Abrahamsson, villa rental operator Jo Gabriel, yachting press editor Sally Erdle and yacht charter representative Kurt Cordice.

TII’s Managing Director Dr. Poon highlighted the need for tourism investment strategies to be developed, both for Bequia and for SVG as a whole. However, Bequia stakeholders noted that before more investors would be attracted to that island, there were certain deterrents to investment that must be addressed. Among the issues identified were problems with air and ferry access, crime against visitors and litter control. Possible projects were then suggested that could be marketed to investors, and which would enhance Bequia’s overall tourism product without detracting from the island’s unspoiled, “family style” image. These included expanded yacht services, including a small marina; a watersports centre; hiking trails; a museum and an eco-lodge set in a legally protected natural area.

Also discussed was the issue of “internal marketing” of tourism, whereby appreciation of tourism can be heightened within the local community. In order to enable more persons to become informed sources of tourism information, the BTA is launching an innovative programme in which businesses and other agencies can reward their best employees with complementary “tourism experiences” such as restaurant meals, overnight stays, boat trips and tours, as offered by participating stakeholders. So, next year when a visitor to Bequia asks around for advice, even more people will be able to say, “Oh, let me tell you about…!” Bequia businesses which have already expressed interest in offering complementary tourism experiences are Friendship Rose charter schooner, Devil’s Table Restaurant, Friendship Bay Hotel, Gingerbread Bar and Restaurant, Limehouse Villa Rentals, Plantation House Hotel, and Whaleboner Bar and Restaurant.