If time is money, then one hospitality industry specialist believes Barbados and other regional tourist destinations are losing significant sums each year due to time wasted at certain points along travellers’ journeys.
Tourists visiting the Caribbean could spend less time going through fast tracked processes like clearing immigration and checking in at hotels, according to Vice President of Sales and Head of Marketing in the Americas for Busy Rooms Ltd, Casey Davy.
He argued that if the time spent on those activities could be reduced, regional destinations could witness a jump in their revenue intake as tourists find more time to enjoy the destination and spend more on entertainment, food and shopping.
“One of the most underrated concepts is time. You travel for three hours to get to the airport and you are ready to spend money because you are ready to enjoy your time, but you spend an hour in immigration or an hour checking in. That is money the destination is not getting,” Davy told participants during the annual Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) 2018 here.
Davy, who was part of a panel discussion on modernizing visitor experiences, could not give an estimate of the revenue that destinations could be losing as a result of delays.
But he later suggested to Barbados TODAY that the visitor’s trips could be enhanced, especially for inter-regional travellers, given that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) was considered one region.
Busy Rooms Ltd describes itself as a revenue, marketing and distribution service company, which connects accommodation providers with online distribution outlets.
“Individuals have to be spending time in lengthy lines when they could be spending more money in the destination and or get into where they need to quicker. It is a huge issue in terms of revenue that the economy is not getting,” he said.
“So the issue of fast tracking through immigration is something that needs to be handled very quickly and efficiently within the Caribbean especially for inter-Caribbean travel. Individuals travel from one destination within the Caribbean to another and still have to go through lengthy processes in immigration [this] could be between an hour to an hour and a half at times,” he stressed.
Government recently installed more than a dozen automated passport kiosks at the Grantley Adams International Airport under a pilot project aimed at fast tracking the immigration process.
In addition to automated passport control kiosks, governments could consider introducing the registered travel service, in order to allow CARICOM nationals to have faster entry through each island’s border.
“Individuals can easily swipe a card and fast track themselves through the immigration process. It is not just an [issue] that needs to be solved by technology, it requires the interaction, communication and collaboration with governments and it can only start there. The technology will come in to assist and enhance that procedure that is agreed upon,” he explained.
During the panel discussions on Wednesday, officials also raised concern about the slow pace in which the region was moving to embrace technology in order to help modernize and enhance the visitor experience.
And while members of the audience raised concern that technology could displace some jobs, panelists argued that new jobs could be created, while using Uber and blogging as examples of opportunities that were created from new technologies.