BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is looking to double the number of businesses recognised as Hospitality Assured (HA), the certification programme that promotes business and service excellence.
At present, 33 of the 80 tourism and hospitality businesses involved in the programme have been certified as Hospitality Assured, according to Sharon Banfield-Bovell, the regional human resource development consultant with the CTO, who along with Janice Smith-Kipps, an experienced HA assessor and trainer of HA assessors, recently conducted a regional HA programme assessor training workshop at the Ocean Terrace Inn in St. Kitts and Nevis.
“The aim is to raise the number of certified business this year by 30,” Banfield-Bovell said.
The assessor training workshop, the third of its kind, is being funded by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), which has approved over US$223,000 in support of the HA (Caribbean) certification programme, and which, through its Caribbean Technological Consultancy Services (CTCS) Network, has been promoting the HA programme as a key means to support the development of tourism quality, business excellence and customer service delivery in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), especially owner-managed businesses in the tourism sector.
“The CDB’s injection of funding support will allow for 30 micro, small or medium tourism enterprises in specific CDB borrowing member countries — Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and St. Vincent and The Grenadines — to participate in the HA certification programme and to achieve one of our strategic goals of strengthening the business performance and overall competitiveness of the tourism sector in the Caribbean,” Banfield-Bovell stressed.
The project will come to end in June this year and the CTO is encouraging tourism businesses to get onboard and fill the remaining 18 available spaces and seek to put in place an effective service quality management system, with the support of the programme’s key personnel, the business advisors and assessors.
At the opening of the St Kitts workshop, Michel Thomas, the CBD’s operations officer, noted: “CDB fully supports the programme, as the Bank recognises the importance of enhancing the competitiveness of MSMEs in the tourism sector, which plays an integral role in the social and economic development of a number of CDB borrowing member countries”.
Twenty-one participants from 13 CTO member countries – Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Belize, the British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Montserrat, St Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Turks and Caicos Islands — participated in the five-day workshop, which was aimed at providing the necessary training to equip participants with the knowledge and performance requirements of HA assessors.
The assessors’ role includes evaluation of businesses, while maintaining commercial confidentiality; ensuring that assessments are undertaken in accordance with certification requirements; providing clear information to businesses in respect of areas for improvement; and clearly identifying best practice, which would benefit these businesses.
Permanent secretary in the St Kitts ministry of tourism, Carlene Henry-Morton, reminded workshop participants that the initiative “is a service and business excellence programme designed to promote a culture of quality, service excellence and continuous improvement through the use of a business improvement tool and framework that is internationally recognised.”
“Some of the real benefits of this designation are service excellence, customer loyalty and referrals, continuous improvement and international branding,” she said.
Hospitality Assured is a service quality management certification owned by the Institute of Hospitality in the United Kingdom, managed and operated by the Hospitality Limited, U.K. and developed specifically for the tourism sector, to promote and reward the highest levels of service and business excellence. Hospitality Assured in the Caribbean is managed and promoted by the CTO. Any hospitality, leisure, tourism or service-oriented organization is eligible for Hospitality Assured certification, be they large or small, single or multi-operational.