The sixteenth Annual World Travel Awards were held recently in London and what was patently clear was that the Bahamas was not the hottest destination in the Caribbean, a lofty position that we as Bahamians had all but taken for granted for far too long.
Jamaica celebrated a “Sweet 16” by winning an outstanding 16 awards. For the third consecutive year Jamaica was recognized as Leading Caribbean Destination, World’s Leading Cruise Destination and Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Destination. While questions are being asked in some international quarters about whether it is truly “better in the Bahamas”, Jamaica was honored for its “Once you go, you know” campaign, in a new category, Caribbean’s Leading Marketing Campaign.
The Jamaica Tourist Board was awarded Caribbean’s Leading Tourist Board for the third year in a row. It is clear that Jamaica is a hot destination, a lofty position the Bahamas held for an extended period of time.
Jamaica’s Director of Tourism John Lynch said, “We’re thrilled to be honored again with some of the industry’s top awards. This recognition acknowledges the success of our efforts in navigating the economic crisis and proves that Jamaica, with its unrivalled offerings, attractions and easy access, is an ideal destination that caters to all travelers.”
Many of Jamaica’s resorts and travel partners were also recognized, further illustrating the destination’s outstanding tourism product:
• World’s Leading Villa – Round Hill Hotel & Villas
• World’s Leading Family All-Inclusive – Beaches Negril Resort & Spa
• Caribbean’s Leading Villa Resort – Round Hill Hotel & Villas
• Caribbean’s Leading Conference Hotel – Half Moon, Montego Bay
• Caribbean’s Leading Beach – Montego Bay
• Caribbean’s Leading Cruise Port – Ocho Rios
• Caribbean’s Leading Adventure Excursion Operator – Chukka Caribbean Adventures
• Caribbean’s Leading Tourist Excursion – Dunn’s River Falls
• Caribbean’s Leading Honeymoon Resort – Royal Plantation Ocho Rios
• Caribbean’s Leading Airline – Air Jamaica
• Caribbean’s Leading Airport – Donald Sangster International Airport
Trafalgar Travel, a travel agency based in Jamaica, was also honored as the Caribbean’s Leading Travel Agency for the third consecutive year.
Editor, I am quick to point out that there is nothing Jamaica has in terms of natural geography, natural beauty and resources, access, skill sets and other intellectual capital that the Bahamas does not have. A credible argument can be made that the tourism goose that laid the golden egg was taken for granted and we probably expected to remain at number one in perpetuity as an entitlement.
What is constant is change and we must apply the principle of “Kaizen”, or continuous improvement to our tourism product. The Bahamas was the undisputed Heavyweight Champion of tourism before and we can reclaim that crown.
I challenge all tourism stakeholders (all 305,000 of us Bahamians) to cut and paste this article in a prominent location in your office or home as a reminder of our dethronement and to motivate us to place all hands on deck and all shoulders to the wheel to reclaim our coveted position as the number one tourist destination in the Caribbean. Bahamians, our national pride and way of life are at stake.
Yes Bahamas tourism is down, temporarily, but certainly not out.