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Poor hygeine and a grumpy waitress: why tourism must improve

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The food was good and the service was excellent, for at least one person who responded to a survey of eating out on St Helena. But others felt they did not get their just desserts.

The insight was presented by Julian Morris, the guest speaker at the annual meeting of the island’s Tourism Association.

“When I was asked to come here, I said to all sorts of people, ‘Could you give me feedback on what’s happening in the hospitality sector?’

“The feedback included, ‘excellent service on a very busy occasion, had a good meal, very well done’, which was good.

“But also comments included ‘hygiene very poor’, ‘wrong order’, ‘an aggressive waitress’, ‘I waited for an hour for my food’, ‘no fresh tuna available on the island’, ‘no dessert offered or available’…

“All of that is money running through people’s hands.”

The failings were not down to the Tourism Department, said Julian, who is head of economic development on the island. “That’s only down to one thing, which is businesses themselves. Service is everything. We all have to improve.”

And businesses weren’t taking the initiative to win customers, he said. “The island is operated on word of mouth. There is never enough promotion being done: special offers, promotions, when things are open, why should people go there. It doesn’t happen.”

Julian told his audience that Enterprise St Helena had begun helping people gear up to the higher standards that must be met if the island was to attract discerning tourists.

The change of culture is beginning in Prince Andrew School. “For the first time, we’ve got a Tourism and Travel iGCSE. We’ve got five people on that course this year.

“We’ve got, for the first time, a Business Studis iGCSE at the school. So this is hard-wiring into the curriculum the coming opportunities that St Helenians will have.”

Hospitality training was also being planned for established businesses, and tourist attractions were being enhanced.

“In terms of the Yacht Club, that’s being improved; walks are being improved, and there’s a programme of promotion on-island and off-island; signage across the place; we’re looking to improve car parking.

“People talk about changing mindsets, and normally what that means is somebody wants somebody else to change their mindset while they retain their own mindset. And that is not good enough.”

St Helena Tourism

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