What tourism product?
“We have a wonderful product that a visitor from anywhere would want, but first we must recognise that,” said Minister Stephen Cadiz at his ministry’s launch of its “new” programme at the North Deck off the North Coast Road in Maracas.
Here we go again—spending millions on marketing, informing and educating, but neglecting to update, upgrade and maintain the product. Ask any successful businessman, including Minister Cadiz himself, if you fail to update, upgrade and maintain your plant the business will eventually fail. Maybe the launch should have taken place in Manzanilla where the river meets the sea—one of the beautiful lay-bys heading to Mayaro, but which is always littered with rubbish and no eco-friendly area to park or sit.
And yes, the minister could have passed through Valencia where he could have gotten good doubles and pies, but he would have had to face a two-mile traffic jam (in spite of a police station just a stone’s throw away) and young “excursioners” walking aimlessly across the road and urinating on the fence behind the pie van because there are no public facilities or police presence.
I have always maintained tourism begins at home, and local tourism will not only create jobs (tour guides, security personnel, food, entertainment, landscaping, accommodation, etc), but reduce the flight of foreign exchange on overseas vacations. But we seem to be missing the point—let us spend the money in the right areas.
You see, we could spend millions on the best international marketing plans, launch Service, Training, Attitude and Respect (STAR) and other such programmes, build visitors’ and eco-tourism sites all over the country; but if we cannot provide and maintain a clean, safe and secure environment for our own to enjoy, then how could we confidently invite foreigners to visit our shores—well maybe with the exception of those who can easily adjust to the wine and jam and dirtiness that we have gotten so used to.