By Loshaun Dixon
Basseterre, St. Kitts-A school of excellence to train stakeholders of the tourism industry in customer service is being established as part of the Ministry of Tourism’s effort to improve the industry.
In a recent interview with members of the media, Tourism Minister Lindsay Grant disclosed that the school will aim to train every single worker in the industry.
“We are poised for something great in St. Kitts and Nevis but we have to make sure we get on board our school of excellence so that every single person in the industry has training and certification,” he said. “That goes down to the gardeners and the persons making the beds. Customer service is not our strongest point and we have to make sure as the industry grows we grow our customer service.”
Mr. Grant said the school will be an actual institution and is partly funded by the European Union
“I am excited about it but I think we are not moving as fast as we can move. It is critically important to our industry,” he added.
He said the school will complement and integrate the hospitality students from the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College.
Grant noted that the St. Kitts Tourism Authority (SKTA) is seeking customer service representatives but added that the because of new markets the individuals should know a second language.
“At the SKTA we are now taking on customer service reps and we have said we are not taking on any unless they speak another language,” he stated. “They either have to speak French, Spanish, German or Italian because that is the market now. Our European cruise market has grown significantly and so we have persons coming in who speak French and German and want to relate to someone speaking the language.
He highlighted the importance of tourism to St. Kitts and Nevis and urged people to get on board and embrace the changes in the industry.
“The last statistics from the World Tourism Organisation said that directly or indirectly 25 percent of the working population is engaged in the business of tourism,” he said. “It also says that 25.5 percent of our GDP is tourism related and that tourism is the economic driver. It means we have to preserve, grow and cherish the industry and make sure that our people benefit from the fruits.”
Taxi operator Elvis Mills recently indicated that he believes taxi operators should undergo more rigorous training in the area of customer service.
“I think that you can train the whole country in customer service. They might not come in a taxi hey might end up over the Marriott they might end up on the street and directing traffic needs a lot of courtesy and customer service,” he stated.