November 19, 2013
Standards will lift tourism product – CEO

Once standards for the tourism product are set in St Vincent and the Grenadines, the country will be ahead of its competition in the Caribbean.{{more}}

That is what Glen Beache, the chief executive officer of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA), disclosed yesterday, while speaking at a press conference.

Beache stated that the SVGTA was working on having a set of standards passed in the House of Assembly, so that the tourism industry in St Vincent and the Grenadines can be improved.

“These are not being put in place to shut anybody down. These are being put in place to make sure that we have a set standard for the industry in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Once this is passed, surprisingly, we’ll be way ahead of some of our competition in the Caribbean, as much as we were late to the tourism doorstep compared to them,” he said.

The CEO explained that the standards are simple things that need to be met.

“It’s important that we do this. The minimum standards aren’t hard. It’s all about making sure you have running hot water in your kitchen, make sure that when you’re preparing food, you have a (hair) net; those sorts of things, basic things,” he said.

With the completion date for the international airport drawing near, Beache stressed the importance of the country moving forward, especially in terms of how the destination is promoted.

He highlighted that one of the requirements of negotiating with airlines would be to put packages together for tour operators. Beache also noted that neighbouring countries have been experiencing problems where setting standards is concerned.

“They want to hear about these things, they want to hear that you have standards. They want to hear that you have a rating system, because depending on your rating system and what the property is rated at, will depend on what it costs.

“Some of our neighbours are going through a difficult time because especially coming out of Europe, people are complaining ‘Wait a minute, I’ve been paying for a four-star hotel when it’s really a two-star hotel’.

“Let’s face facts. If I’m a property owner and you allow me to rate myself, if really I’m a two star, you’re lucky I don’t give myself a four and a half star rating because it’s better for my property,” Beache said.

Beache indicated that managers at SVGTA have been looking into standards from the United States and England and are speaking to various stakeholders with respect to which set of standards they prefer to use.

Additionally, he asked that stakeholders be supportive of the process.

“I ask people to support it, stakeholders to support it and know that we are not doing this to close down anybody. We’re just doing this because we have the industry at heart and we have our St Vincent and the Grenadines at heart in making sure that we do things properly and right, so that we can attract more and more people and investors to St Vincent and the Grenadines,” Beache said.

As part of their initiative, the SVGTA will be closed tomorrow, Wednesday so that they can brainstorm about various ideas to improve the tourism product in St Vincent and the Grenadines, particularly with the impending opening of the Argyle international airport. (BK)