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The Story within the Story… By Leonard Gildarie The past week was an eventful one as far as news was concerned. Tops for me was the opening of the MarriottLeonard GildarieHotel in Kingston and the fact that former US President, Jimmy Carter, would once again be leading a team from Carter Centre for the May 11 polls.With regards to the latter, I say the more observers, the better. We will also be seeing teams from the Organisation of American States (OAS) and even from the Guyana Public Service Union. The observers will help dispel possible doubts over the election results. The past two decades have seen the problems that manifest in that regard.I was especially heartened by the smiling faces of the Marriott’s workers. I lived in the Dutch Antilles for over six years. St. Maarten literally exists on a tourism industry. The need for service with a smile is critical to the running of that small island and so many other countries.Tourist repeats depend heavily on the impressions formed during visits. People will recall the food, music and smiles, and of course the service.Many tourists, from especially North America wait with high anticipation on their vacation time. Many of them will max out their credit cards for that one or two weeks of splurge and kick-back time.In many of the countries that depend on tourism for the economy, the Tourism andWe can even contemplate uniforms for drivers and conductors as part of a plan to improve our tourism product.Hospitality bodies spearhead training for the frontline staffers and supervisors. It is serious business.So it was that I attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony at Marriott and saw the staffers mingling with guests and invitees. I am sure that they would have been taught to be discreet and professional. The uniforms were just perfect, even the security personnel were impressive.We are told that staffers went through several weeks of intense training.But I could not help reflect on some of the service we offer here in Guyana.Government and other tourism-related bodies have been pushing for Guyana to improve its tourism product. The focus is on the beautiful sights in especially in the hinterland…the waterfalls, the trails, birds…the list goes on.Let me say that we have still a far way to go with some of our key services.I remembered one day heading to the gas station to put some air in the wheels of the car. I forgot to hook the air hose properly. The gas attendant yelled for me to stop and demanded that I return and hook the hose in the correct manner. I wanted to, but his tone rubbed me the wrong way, and I asked him if that is the way his boss taught him to deal with customers.His harsh tone was a major turn-off. And being the rebel that I am, I stopped going to that gas station on the East Coast of Demerara.Recently also, my family had a wedding. We rented the tents over Easter weekend and the company promised to send their guys on Easter Monday to collect them.On Sunday morning, a woman identifying herself as a manager called for the tents. She was sending her workers across in a few hours. Of course,Wholesale NFL Jerseys, I protested. We had guests coming in a few hours. The agreement was for Monday. She was rude and said she will have her boss call me. I insisted that the agreement was for Monday and encouraged her to have her boss call. I was steaming.On Monday, when they came to collect the tents, the order form they had me sign said clearly that the pickup was for Monday. I received no apologies from the company.The two incidents are important to the argument of how important service is.It will be difficult for me to give my money to those two businesses again.We have heard complaints of victims calling for police on 911 and not getting through. Citizens claim that even the police station lines would ring out. How can this be?Then there are the growing complaints of police shakedowns. I have personally encountered incidents where the ranks literally ask for a raise.A few weeks ago, behind the Botanical Gardens, on Mandela Avenue, a police at a roadblock came sauntering up, thumbs hooked in his belt. There was no ‘good day’, except for him asking…”Yuh ahright boss?”I asked why he stopped me. He said the place was hot, an obvious indication that he wanted something to drink. Not in the mood, I told him to get a fan.I have a few suggestions that I hope the powers that be contemplate.A few years ago, somebody came up with the bright idea to have taxis in a particular color- yellow. They allowed the private taxis to remain in the original colours.I would love to see it taken a step further. Why not demand a standard uniform for taxi drivers. And as we are on that, why not uniforms for minibus drivers and conductors.It is done all over the world.Many passengers would tell of the daily hassle of having a conductor in a dirty t-shirt or vest sitting next to them. We cannot continue going down the same road. These are the things that people see, that tourists see.We need to fix the police’s 911 and eliminate those barefaced shakedowns from police ranks. We need to demand so many other services like at the registries, at the Mayor and City Councillors, at the passport office and even at some of our stores.We have to look at what others are doing and do it better. Let us look towards Singapore as an example of the heights we can reach. We only have to dream.Enjoy the week and please do continue to send those comments to [email protected] or call weekdays on 225-8491.
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