I have waited a few days, hoping, even wishing that someone within the tourism industry would make a public comment over the appointment of a new Barbados Tourism Authority Board. Sadly, it hasn’t happened and almost with a sense of obligation, while knowing that it will invite criticism find it almost compelling to ask some seemingly relevant questions.
First let us establish the objective here. It’s not about individual personalities, but surely what is in the overall national best interest of Barbados and its tourism sector. To ensure that I fully understood the required criteria of a Board Chairman, I have read through pages and pages of reference documents on the internet.
Listed as a basic function is ‘The Chairman of the Board is responsible for the management, the development and the effective performance of the Board of Directors, and provides leadership to the Board for all aspects of the Board’s work’.
Instinct tells me that it is fundamentally essential to have an in-depth knowledge of the industry, its players and product, to perform this duty. Otherwise how could you assess the strengths and weaknesses to ensure that any medium to long term all embracing plan and policy direction is put into place?
Perhaps, that’s what separates the way some of us think!
I cannot recall many hotels over the years that I have not visited, either briefly or in fact stayed at. The latter have included Coral Reef, Atlantis, Little Good Harbour, Hilton, Bougainvillea and Southern Palms. If you count some of the 30 plus hotels that have closed over the years, it would be many more.
Having also personally called on literally hundreds of travel agents across North America and participated in many promotional tours and shows in past years, I considered it absolutely essential that not only could I easily discuss our own little property, but the Barbados tourism product in general.
Of course there will be many seasoned industry professionals lined up to offer the new Chairman advice, but to judge the validity and priority of any suggestions made he will have to very quickly evaluate the importance of those inputs and how they could be incorporated positively in any policy planning.
The responsibilities of the Chairman include ‘the quality, quantity and timeliness of the information that goes to Board members’.
Can this be achieved effectively by relying entirely on data fed to you?
It is now over three years since the planned restructure of the Barbados Tourism Authority was promised in the DLP election manifesto and two years since the announced separation of the organisation to include a marketing and product development company. I remember asking what the proposed time line for the restructuring was and the reply indicated six months, which at that time I thought was woefully optimistic.
There appears to be no shortage of discussion but we appear to lack the resolve of implementation.
I genuinely wish the new BTA chairman every success, and there is no doubt that he will need all the constructive help he can get, especially during what is going to be a very challenging summer ahead.