Special Features
November 30, 2007
‘Building a Culture of Service Excellence for SVG’s Tourism Industry’


by Bianca Porter President SVGHTA

Regardless of the size of the country, the language spoken, the establishment, or the background of the tourist, visitor or customer, service or the level of service received or experienced, somehow invariably becomes a topic for discussion. Exceptional service is usually long remembered and spoken about to family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues. Similarly, poor service is never forgotten, and this experience, unfortunately, is repeated to far more persons and over a longer period of time, than good service is.{{more}}

It is timely that the Ministry of Tourism, Youth, and Sport has chosen the theme “Building a Culture of Service Excellence for SVG’s Tourism Industry” to commemorate Tourism week 2007. This comes during a period when the country is moving forward positively with the upcoming establishment of a National Tourism Authority, Standards for the tourism industry, as well as the move to start a Maritime and Hospitality Institute. It is evident that we all need to take a critical and objective look at the service which we offer here in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Of course, the service industry is a very broad area, and covers more than just hotels, restaurants and other tourism establishments. We all receive service in different areas of our everyday life on a daily basis.

I believe some of the building blocks of “Service Excellence” are creating awareness, ongoing training, commitment to one’s organization and one’s country, an unfailing enthusiasm, national pride, strong leadership, positive attitudes, being proactive, creative thinking, and “taking that one extra step” to please or satisfy every customer we come into contact with, regardless of nationality. This list, undoubtedly, can be expanded.

Our tourism industry, especially on mainland St. Vincent, is still in a developing stage. Hotel occupancies and visitor arrivals are still not as high as industry players would like them to be, and, unquestionably, excellent service will bring us one step closer to our goal. The well known motivational speaker and author Kenneth Blanchard, in a book which he co-authored entitled “Raving Fans”, explains the idea of creating customer experiences which, in essence, are so exceptional that these customers become loyal to and passionate about a particular organization. We must yearn to get to that place. We are fortunate that our Honourable Prime Minister has been forthcoming in assisting our sector in areas which help to reduce our operating costs. In the tourism business, such steps speak volumes, as revenues saved in one area can be used to further enhance our human resources and our overall product.

As Vincentians, we must all first and foremost adapt an attitude of sincerely wanting to make our tourism product a resounding success, one which we will all be proud of, and one which can be sustained in the long-term. We recognize that neither the government nor the private sector can work in isolation, and in this regard, the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Hotel and Tourism Association reaffirms its commitment to tourism and its support of the Ministry of Tourism, Youth and Sport. Furthermore, we look forward to the continued strengthening of our partnership with Government in the best interest of development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.