The exit-survey conducted by the Tourism Council last year has revealed that road conditions topped complaints from tourists.
This was followed by waste management, food quality, stray dogs, and rest rooms.
As we promote ourselves as a high-end destination, it is important that we listen and address these issues. We want more high-end tourists to re-visit us or to recommend us to other potential visitors.
It is also equally important that these issues be addressed for ourselves as well.
While much progress has been made and continues to be made in building better quality roads in the country, there is still much room for improvement.
In the capital city itself, we still see roads riddled with potholes. Some roads resemble intricate jigsaw puzzles with the amount of patchwork repairs that have taken place.
Ensuring quality work has been a challenge for some of our local contractors and purchasing agencies.
But change is occurring. The East-West highway, which is frequently used to transport tourists, is being widened and the Prime Minister himself is keeping an eye on the quality of the road. The highway will be a test to see if we can get it right with higher standards and proper oversight.
If it is a success then we should see the number of both tourists and local complaints decrease.
When it comes to the other complaints, there are measures we can implement now as they do not need the massive amount of resources building roads requires.
Efforts have been and continue to be made to change waste disposal behaviours. But looking at the amount of waste still ending up in our open environment, it seems there is a need to redouble these efforts.
Since we’re talking about tourism here, concerned agencies can look to immediately introduce measures that would discourage littering in areas frequented by tourists. Getting tour companies and local communities involved by providing incentives for good practices and enforcing penalties for littering is one possible solution.
We are aware that the standard of our public restrooms are deplorable. Efforts are being made by a group of volunteers to change this. What is now needed is additional support from the tourism sector to aid the group in finding sponsors and other resources when needed.
Another major complaint is on our stray dogs that keep some of our visitors up all night. Several sterilisation campaigns have been undertaken. It is estimated that in about a half decade or so the stray dog problem will be mitigated after those sterilised die.
But we can still do something now. We can stop importing so many foreign dogs and choose to adopt a stray. Not only would it reduce the number of strays in the streets, it would also show that we care for our own.