35 hoteliers receive tourism licences
January 20, 2015
35 hoteliers receive tourism licences

Hoteliers in St Vincent and the Grenadines are now better poised to compete with similar businesses regionally and internationally.

Last Thursday, 35 establishments received licences from the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA) after successfully passing a series of inspections {{more}}that ensured these establishments’ practices are of a certain standard.

During a short ceremony at the Sunset Shores Hotel, president of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Hotel and Tourism Association (SVGHTA) Kim Halbich expressed happiness that hotel standards were finally implemented by the SVGTA and commended the persons receiving licences for their dedication to the cause.

“Today’s visitor expects to pay less and get more. The culture is being created that if what they get is not perfect, they expect to get it free. Sadly, this is filtering down to the Caribbean and I think the first step to combating this phenomenon is our standards,” she said.

As Halbich continued to stress the importance of standards, she declared that this new step does not mean that hoteliers in this country are competing against one another. Instead, she noted that the initiative was a platform to compete with the Caribbean region and the rest of the world.

“I think the standards are a great way to start. Some of us feel like ‘oh it’s boring; we don’t have enough business; they expect us to spend, and how are we going to manage it.’ But little by little, working with each other, it can happen. I would like to thank all of those who took the initial step to join and move forward,” the president said.

In his remarks, chief executive officer of the SVGTA Glen Beache noted that tourism is an industry that continues to change over time and stated that stakeholders must take the necessary steps to keep up with the changes.

Beache further described the industry as this country’s main foreign exchange earner and encouraged stakeholders to seriously market their businesses for today’s consumers.

“When people look at St Vincent and the Grenadines and they punch it into the search engine, a lot of the times, they are looking at the reviews of people who have stayed in your properties before. And so, we have to make sure that we’re better than good. We have to be excellent. No matter what, this is our number one foreign exchange earner,” Beache said.

Minister of Tourism Cecil McKie expressed similar sentiments, as he declared that persons should not be satisfied with the product as is, but rather take initiatives to improve what is being offered to tourists.

“Thirty-two islands and cays allow us to invite persons to our shores and to virtually have an experience at each of these islands and cays. It means therefore that we could not be just be satisfied with having the product, but we all have a role to play in making that product even better,” he said.

Additionally, McKie opined that St Vincent and the Grenadines was one of the preferred destinations within the Caribbean and stated that with the commissioning of the Argyle international airport, more persons will be attracted to the island, especially since standards are in place.

Efforts towards the implementation of formal standards in the tourism industry began in 2013 and since then, the SVGTA has been carrying out inspections on several properties to formally rate these establishments. Some of the standards include making sure there is running hot water in the kitchen and that persons wear hairnets when preparing food.(BK)