People are the key to reviving our tourism
During the 1950s when NASA was engaged in various Gemini missions, it was fascinating back then, to hear the mission control announcer speak of the significant part computers played in each launch.
During one particular launch, he mentioned how two computers were communicating with each other, as vital technical data was being processed, while a mother computer was listening to the two computers for any sign that they were not in harmony prior to lift off.
Computer science has taken a giant leap forward since those years, and up until the final launch in the space shuttle programme, which was essential to building the international space station, computers continued to play a vital role, especially during critical periods prior to launch.
Even though the highly trained astronauts were required to make countless decisions, they relied heavily at times on computers which were programmed to keep them informed on the performance of their space craft.
Very few Bermudians would not agree that something needs to be done to re-ignite what was once a thriving tourist industry. However, unlike the astronauts, we need much more than computers to breath new life in an industry that played such a key part in helping to build Bermuda.
Political bickering over the transitional arrangements in phasing out the Department of Tourism, to launch a Tourism Authority, continues to be a sensitive area, since the question of jobs had to be sorted out.
Government stated that all those in the former department of tourism would have the opportunity to be a part of the new system. However, they stressed that those not inclined to take up that offer would be offered employment in other departments. Government inisisted there would be no job losses.
Most major changes in Government management usually ruffle more than a few feathers. While this is to be expected, to shift decision making power for tourism away from Government had its own set of challenges.
The new Tourism Authority, even with the best brains of the day, has its work cut out in a changing world, where global financial instability continues to impact just about every jurisdiction, including Bermuda.
In fact, our principle market area, America, is battling with its own debt problem and other related issues. We observed recently how the United States, in the eyes of many, was willing to shoot itself in the foot, rather than reach agreement to avert a Government shutdown, which impacted just about every area of American life.
Every country has challenges, but if a closer examination is made of our Island tourism product as a first class resort, with improvements on many of our main attractions, we should be able to hold our own in the face of increasing competition from other resorts.
It is one thing being an expensive resort, but another in delivering what visitors expect for their money. Trying to keep our prices competitive, while maintaining quality standards will require collective support from every sector of our community.
Often we hear about colourful promotional material which can be expensive in efforts to boost tourist business.
That has its place, but getting visitors to feel welcome is the business of everyone in Bermuda. When a visitor leaves Bermuda, he or she, will decide about returning only if they feel the Bermuda experience was something they wish to repeat. A satisfied guest is our best advertisment. Even with the new Tourism Authority, there will be no quick turn around in tourism over night.
A more concentrated focus on getting our product in better shape is essential to improving the situation.
Additional attractions for visitors would also be helpful, although the gaming issue remains wobbly with pros and cons not yet fully explored to determine whether this would enhance our business, or negatively impact our social infrastructure.
There are strong views for and aganist gaming which will need to be carefully worked out before a decision is made. Most Bermudians want a revival of our industry, and attempts to improve how we do business in this area are welcomed.
Hopefully whatever plans are being drafted will include renewed thrust in making Bermuda a place where peace and friendliness, along with reasonable prices, is a way of life, even in the midst of our current economic troubles and political clashes,
Bermuda still has much to offer as a world class resort.
If we fail to grab the moment, our future could be in jeapody. No one wants that.
Both political partys need to cooperate in seeing that the new change will eventually produce positive results. In a sense, the two political partys are the two computers mentioned earlier, and the Bermudian people have the role of the mother computer.
In other words the people really do matter.