HomeResourcesSue Springer's presentations at the 4th Quarterly Dec 2016


The Changing Tide of Tourism

“There is nothing permanent except change” - Heraclitus

The tourism sector has grown and continues to grow on the backs of Barbadian entrepreneurs and international investors. Creating jobs, foreign exchange, supporting infrastructural development, such as the airport and seaport, improving transportation and driving real estate development which has thus positioned Barbados in a prime position to attract investors and for the economy of the country to grow through the tourism sector.   

The infrastructure in Barbados has increased with more hotel rooms along our shores together with major hotel projects now in construction, an explosion of the villa sector and more airlift to the island, we have reduced rates and enervated and we have sold the sun sand and sea image and this has serviced us well in the past. The reliance upon old certainties and staying within one’s comfort zone of selling a traditional sun sand and sea vacation experience that people know NOW has to change.

Today we are facing the challenges such as Zika, Brexit, Canadian stagnation, a US presidential change, global economic turmoil, terrorism, global consolidation in all sectors of the economy, the way we do business is being effected by all of these dynamic influences, however despite all this the outlook for the Caribbean region and Barbados is good with a projection of growth in the tourism sector for this year of 4%.

The only constant is change and what we have to recognise is the fact that the traveller is changing and evolving they have more options, they are more sophisticated, technology provides instant gratification and information and whatever the demographic they yearn for authenticity of experience. We have got to get creative, complacency in a new media world is not sustainable so we cannot remain with the status quo.

Sitting on a beach sipping a rum punch is amazing but it no longer satisfies the traveller today, there is more to Barbados and our visitors want to see it, experience it, live it and feel it.  We must highlight the elements and the people that distinguish our island from anywhere else.  We must think beyond what we have traditionally valued and look inwardly both literally and figuratively prized beach lands are gone there is a beauty to the life we live in Barbados the warmth of our people, foreign investment is necessary and more often than not is good for the island, however local knowledge and the human capital is what humanizes all this concrete and development. Innovative service standards that distinguish our product, with a credo to simply exceed expectations, surprise and delight and to be creative problem solvers that lead with confidence and competence is the order of the day.  Do we see value in what is ours, what we make, how we serve, the things we build, -  are we willing to do what it takes to meet and exceed international standards in preparing for a better future? Some people may question this and say that we have always given such service, but let us be honest - do we still give that level of service and do we invest in our human capital?

There must be now more than ever a strong resolve for a spirit of collaboration within both the public and private sectors, this collaboration will foster mutual respect that can help lasting development and will be the foundation of our success. Improved access to finances, bureaucratic reform to improve the business environment, and a talented human capital will bring a strong, steady and unwavering foundation that business requires to grow. Business thrives on innovation and efficiency, overregulation systemic bureauracy and complacency of attitude are for the past, any organism that does not evolve is sentenced to die and we need to evolve.

We have to realise that what is happening to tourism globally is not just a change but a radical shift. The balance of power is shifting and not in the favour of the business but the traveller, the customer is king. To stay alive in the new paradigm we have to adapt and change and to survive we have to adjust our value proposition.  It is now about the entire destination experience and the strongest key to this experience is confident, inspired, talented empowered individuals who can deliver the unforgettable memories.

The tourism industry today is a launch pad of greater things to come and it requires original thinkers and it demands courage to make that change, opportunity is all around us for those who see it, whether it is the latest selling proposition or that wow factor that creates that exceptional experience. We must remember that as Nathaniel Brandeu said “The first step towards change is awareness. The second step is acceptance”

Talking of change = Today I stand here with many mixed emotions.

I have had an absolutely incredible journey as the EVP or as the CEO.  It has been an exhilarating ride, never did a day pass without an opportunity to learn, to serve and to hopefully help.  Instead of having 350 staff as I did at the last hotel I manged I have had 320 members all in need of different requirements.

I would like to personally thank the strategic partners that have worked closely with me, the various ministers in Government, with special reference to two ministers of Tourism Minister Lynch and Minister Sealy. To all the PS’s in the various ministries with special mention to Stuart Layne previously PS in the MOT and now CEO of BTII.  The various teams at BTA now BTMI and BTPA especially Oliver Jordan, Hudson Husbands and most recently Billy Griffith and Dr Kerry Hall.  Mr Hugh Riley CEO of CTO. Alec Sanguinetti and Frank Comito from CHTA another part of my exciting life and all of the AE’s across the Caribbean.

I have also had the greatest pleasure to have had 8 bosses during my time at the BHTA – 8 very individual persons that all had their own style of management and leadership.  Colin Jordan would send me emails at 2 am in the morning as that was the BHTA time slot in his day, Patricia would not be available any morning at 6.30 as she was in the gym, Sunil Saturday mornings were for golf!!!! Wayne took his long summer vacation in the UK but was always available, Jon was the only President to give me an appraisal thank you! Allan Banfield supported me when my daughter Natalie was ill, Alvin was a master with the media and he also tried to encourage me to dance!!!!! Roseanne our current chair is a fireball or energy and her mind never rests as she is always thinking on her feet and pushing for the very best in everything!

I have learnt so much from each of these consummate professionals and I feel privileged to have had input into my career by such leaders.

To you the members, the Association is nothing without our members.  What fun we have had and what hurdles we have jumped together. Thank you all for your untiring, patience with many issues, your support and guidance.

During the past 16 years, I have been blessed with an amazing team at the Secretariat both now and some of the staff that have left, they have never failed to support me and the Association by their continuous hard work and dedication. The team that surrounds you are so very important and there is no I in team.  They are truly a number ONE team and please acknowledge them for me!!!

This is not goodbye I shall now become a member and will be here with you in another capacity so until then may I wish you all a blessed Christmas and a fantastic New Year

I thank you!!!!


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