Tourism: Get Clued Up (Part I)
Tourism, as we know, is the main driving force of Grenada’s economy in recent years. It has not always been this way: a few decades ago, agriculture occupied the lucrative position of being the main contributor to the GDP of Grenada. The businesses of tourism and agriculture are quite different: agriculture produces tangible produce with success depending on the quality of tangible input (soil fertility, availability of water etc) whereas tourism is a service industry which requires both tangible facilities and intangible inputs (such as warmth and friendliness).
The Merriam-Webster dictionary provides us with two relevant definitions of the term tourism: the first definition is the activity of travelling to a place for pleasure whilst the second is the business of providing hotels, restaurants, entertainment etc., for people who are travelling. In other words, tourism from the perspective of the tourist is seeking pleasure from visiting places outside one’s home, which provides opportunity for local service providers to accommodate tourists and to ensure the latter do find the pleasure sought after.
The needs of someone travelling to somewhere for pleasure are the same basic needs of a human being, in that one would require food and beverages, shelter and suitable attire, with the addition of finding entertainment and fun. A tourist generally expects a bit of pampering whilst carrying out tourist activities: a tourist would typically expect to have accommodation that is a step up from a room in their own private homes, as well as to be fed food that is better than or the same quality as the meals they would prepare in their own kitchens, and to enjoy pleasurable activities that they would not be able to find in their home environments.
If a location does not have suitable accommodation then tourists would not come, or would not stay overnight. If a location does not have restaurants for tourists to eat good quality food then tourists would not come to that location. If there are no pleasurable activities at a location for a tourist, then tourists may not visit. Unless these basic needs are catered for in a location, then tourists are unlikely to visit. Further, tourists do not need to go and find out for themselves what is available in a place: in the age of Tripadvisor (A travel website where someone can read/write reviews), it is easy for a tourist to determine what services are available in a place before planning a trip.
Therefore, the first step in attracting tourists to a location, is ensuring the basic needs of a tourist are met. It would help greatly if locals in a location are aware of these needs and able to provide a tourist with help and information to find suitable service providers. We are used to hearing that tourism is everybody’s business. Locals offering a business service – whether it is selling arts and crafts, or their talent – would be more likely to obtain business from tourists if they and other locals are helpful and provide useful information about the place including about other service providers. For instance on a recent trip to another Caribbean island as a tourist, one was more than happy to buy from vendors who provided helpful tips on places to visit and the best way to get there. In addition, one was impressed that locals who were not even selling a tourist product supported their compatriots who were, by generously providing recommendations and directions. If locals are friendly and helpful, then the tourist would remember that experience when planning a trip the next time around. Hence, together everyone can play a part in enhancing tourism in their local vicinity.
Tourism | Definition Of Tourism By Merriam-Webster. Available online: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tourism (Accessed 20/05/2016)