Letters & Opinion

We must dare to be different, or pay a price for the difference!

Carlton Ishmael
By Carlton Ishmael

RECENTLY, I found myself reconnected to the tourism trade, an area that I had spent many a year in direct involvement, being practically involved in entertainment, guiding, training persons in some areas, and the management of certain sectors.

My present observation is that the hustle is intense, real, and needs new innovations and guidance, because there is just too much of the same.

No doubt, there are lots of people involved in the industry, in one way or the other, be it at the high end or the low end, all aiming and struggling to make a buck, despite the infighting, the mistrust, the distrust and the fighting-down of each other, just to obtain a competitive edge.

There‚Äôs a growing number of vendors, but all selling the same trinkets, the same items, displayed in the same way, and using the same sales pitch and common practices. But the word they need to learn is ‚Äúdiversification‚ÄĚ, or daring to be different. But to many, being original never seems to be viable or visible.

I call it the ice cream cart syndrome – one cart, many carts, of the same items with no difference in quality, taste nor variety. It is like each person copies from the other and paste, or duplicates what the other is doing and cannot see sense in seeking out a pattern or commodities that differs from their competitors.

This happens when we borrow rather than innovate, or not pay attention to the varying needs of the potential client. It would be nice to drive down a vendor’s lane, or site, and see one selling bananas, another selling coconuts, the other only mangoes, etc. You see my drift? The separation of item and false tastes make each vendor unique in their own way, still competing, but separated in choice. This gives the potential buyer a choice Рand remember, different strokes for different folks.

The Tourism trade and industry has lots of space and opportunities for masses of persons to be absorbed in, but does not seem to have a philosophy guiding the industry with the concept of creating more interesting ventures, and opportunity for the masses.

For example, despite how many cruise or land based visitors that visits our shores, much cannot be done or found because of unavailability or non-existence. We boast having the best in musical and artistic talents, but not featured on a regular basis because we still believe in occasionalism. No national museums or visible national archieves or wider outlets or display institutions. No ‚ÄėAll Made in St. Lucia‚Äô craft exhibit showcases, no ‚Äėeat all you can or want‚Äô, because all the cuisine is Lucian. Nowhere is the dress making; and accessories and clothing and modelling is all on display consistently, all the time at a selective place or venue.

Where do you get your stylist, our local water sports units, or wildlife sanctuaries? Where are our spices or exotic fruits gardens? Are there places we can see our reptiles or varied animals, hear the voices and see the movies or documentaries, or buy music and videos Made in St. Lucia?

My suggestion is to have planners, innovators and dreamers with a people’s development objective in mind. We can grow, or become different, only if we can think futuristically.

It is not the lack of ideas we suffer from, but the absence of progressive thinking leaders and planners. We have an absence of visionaries and pioneers among the people.

Those who can, do think outside the box see new horizons, be bold and courageous and not afraid to take chances, or dare to be different, or even to fail sometimes.

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