It is the festive season again and tourism facilities are often the focus. Whether it is about lodging, food, water sports or many other services, the festive season often gives an idea of the potential tourism has as a source of foreign earnings and job creation.
But we have never got this right. And like many others, I would say the “devil is camping on our backs”, of course, with a tweak of the tongue.
One thing is how businesses in the tourism strategise and put in place plans to woo many visitors. It is often a tricky balance of trying to make huge profits and pay less attention to the discerning visitor.
Worse, if you have a string of clients that are public servants or non-governmental organisations (NGOs), you are guaranteed business. So why care?
I could be wrong, but I love to share real stories from the foreign tourists we try to woo. This is a verified account on popular tourism website www.hotels.com. It gives an interesting account of some tourism establishments.
“The only thing in this hotel that is great is the Malawian staff. Below is an account of what stinks [literally] about this hotel,” wrote one traveler on the website. “I have a deluxe queen room. The toilet paper appears to be about 1/2 ply thick—I did not even realise how thin toilet paper could actually be; cheese cloth would service better than the paper they provide.
“The hotel does not provide tissues in the room. You are forced to use the toilet paper, if you should be inclined to call it such, to blow your nose, clean off your fingernail polish, makeup [if you wear it], and anything else one uses tissues for in a normal situation. They provide one roll of this toilet paper along with two bottles of water.
“As the best hotel in the area, they have no generator. And let me tell you, when the power goes out, it is one dark place to be! Bring a flashlight with you and a bottle opener if you are going to purchase bottled drinks. There is only a comforter on the bed with no sheet. I slept under my shawl that I bought in Uganda, since it is lightweight cotton and serves well as a single size sheet.
“Bring your own sheet. When I arrived, I was in room XXX. The AC unit was pushing out warm air. The maintenance man cleaned the filter, it pushed out more air, but still warm air. I finally had them change my room to XXX. So, this one has cool air—not 16 degrees air, but cooler air.
“I was about to take my shower, so I turned on the water to get it warm. Let me tell you, there are no controls on how hot the water can actually get here. It came out pleasant enough but quickly got to scalding hot. This is very dangerous for anyone caught in the shower.
“The shower head shot backward making the very heavy flow of water shoot over the top of the shower onto the bathroom floor, lucky it is tile. The sink was soaked, and the towel that I had laid on the sink for me to use when I was done was completely soaked. I couldn’t reach the shower head to get it to adjust back down, so I pulled on the water hose that attaches the shower head to the water inlet. At that moment, the shower head holder flies off and the nozzle with the shower head is now snaking around the shower shooting water everywhere. Now, I have successfully ruined my toilet paper by drenching it in the water.
“There is about 1/2 inch of water standing on the bathroom floor now. Finally, and this is all just a few seconds, I think to turn the water off completely. Things quit moving, and I can now put the shower back together. Needless to say, the shower head and the holder are not sturdy when the water is on, so I recommend holding the nozzle during showers.
“Supper last night was not monumental. I had a chicken sandwich with fries. I was contemplating the club sandwich, but was informed it was simply an egg and bacon on bread served with potato chips. Many of the items on the menu were not available. Breakfast in the morning, was poor at best. The food was covered in containers over small flames that, despite the effort, did not keep the food warm.
“The coffee, however, was worthy of returning for a second and even third round—very small cups though, so no caffeine overload. The coffee was served with a small bit of warm milk, which was a nice touch. The hotel exchange rate for money is a rip off also. Change your money at the airport”.
So why does one need to pay over $100 for such a room? While sometimes we like to blame government for weaknesses in the tourism sector, there are certain basic things that operators need to fix and make visitors. Some of these things batter the image of an entire country as a destination.
Otherwise, this is the last post in 2016, and let us keep the dream alive as we welcome 2017 in next 48 hours or thereabouts.
Wishing you all a Happy New Year!! n