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CARIBBEAN - Business Ezine

No Easy Task

Oliver Jordan outgoing CEO of the Barbados Tourism Authority

Sunday 02, May-2004

by Roy Morris

Oliver Jordan outgoing CEO of the BTA tells the Nation there is still so much that the tourism sector needs to do to continue to be successful.

For example, it needs to devote a lot of resources to increase room capacity, the standard of customer service and the visitors’ perception of whether they are getting value for money.

And leading this effort, said outgoing Barbados Tourism Authority (BTA) chief executive officer, Oliver Jordan, should be a successor with significant experience in tourism matters.

In an exclusive interview with the SUNDAY SUN, Jordan, who is taking up the post of managing director of FirstCaribbean International Bank with responsibility for Barbados, British Virgin Islands and St Maarten, said it was necessary to deal with these issues in order for the industry to continue to grow.

“There are a number of things the industry has to deal with,” Jordan said.

“One is the value for money issue – it is a major issue these days. We’ve positioned ourselves as a leading destination, and obviously our prices are higher, but with those higher prices people expect a certain quality of service, a certain quality of product.

“And if you have a situation where hotels are offering rooms which are not really up to standard, but yet want to charge US $250 a night, then it’s going to give us problems in the future.”

He added: “The issue of service is one that has been talked about a number of times, and again we need to make sure that we can deliver the service for the kinds of prices that our hotels and attractions are charging.

“The other issue is that of trying to attract the right amount of investment into the industry. We only have about 6 000 hotel rooms, but the reality is that not all of those rooms are of the quality that would attract the major tour operators.

“We are expanding significantly in the United States with all these carriers coming in – the US Airways, Continental, we are in discussion with United Airlines and a few other carriers – but the challenge we keep facing is that there are not enough good three- and four-star type products on the island.

“There is product at the higher end, and there is product on the lower end, but in that mid-range we need a lot more.”

Despite these challenges, Jordan said, most objective industry commentators were in agreement that tourism was on the rebound and one of the objectives of planners should be to level the peaks and troughs that now characterise the sector, so hotels and ancillary services can enjoy a high level of business year-round.

That’s why, he added, the person taking over the BTA should be an experienced tourism practitioner.

“I think in a sense for me coming into the industry when I did and not having a lot of background was a good thing at that particular point in time, because I did not come in with a lot of the baggage . . . that someone in the industry might have come in with in terms of the perceptions of the BTA, or the perceptions of the private sector”.

Compliments of the Nation News


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