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Industry Briefs
Excellence Is Also Key
Bevan Springer

As the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) unveils its "Tourism is Key" campaign, all stakeholders are urged to recognize tourism is also about excellence. The advocacy campaign from the region's private sector players speaks to the importance of tourism linkages, a topic which was vigorously ventilated at the 19th edition of the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) held in Kingston, Jamaica during September. The overwhelmingly positive impact tourism has on the region's socio-economic development reminded stakeholders tourism is everybody's business. Tourism benefits not only hotels, airlines, and cruise lines, but also delivers sustainable livelihoods to taxi drivers, restaurants, farmers, fishermen, bankers, accountants, vendors, artists and small businesses. While the statistical and economic evidence is clear, the industry still receives scant respect from some policy-makers, banking institutions, and even John Q. Public. This under-valuing of its wider benefits is due partly to weak communications strategies and an inability to effectively convey the real value of tourism to all. Flaccid communications outreach has also failed to counter elitist perceptions of the industry by knowing or unwittingly creating distance between top-tier executives and the man on the street who heavily relies on tourism's economic riches. While we anticipate positive results from CHTA's new campaign, we should redouble our focus in the area of customer service delivery and embedding excellence in all that we do. According to American actor, Michael J. Fox: "I am careful not to confuse excellence with perfection. Excellence, I can reach for; perfection is God's business."

In the Caribbean, we are increasingly giving passing grades to mediocrity, but we cannot afford to continue to avoid the need for excellence in a highly competitive global market. Our leaders, whether in the public or private sector, must demand excellence in public relations, excellence in customer service, excellence in communications coupled with honesty, integrity, hard work, discipline and a desire to deliver world-class services and experiences. It may be a tall order but with the will, coupled with a commitment to sharpen our skills, a drive for excellence will position ourselves much more competitively. We should heed the deeds of the late Prime Minister of Barbados, The Honourable David Thompson, who exhorted his nationals during his final days to approach the challenges ahead in the spirit of unity and love. By so doing, we create an enabling environment for excellence to truly thrive.
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