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Breakfast Club- Tourism Sector
15th June 2018 @ 9:00 am - 10:30 am
Tourism Matters for Business
On 15th June, the GFSB’s Breakfast Club gathered together many members whose business interests involved in some way with the tourism sector. The seminar, held bright and early at the GFSB’s conference facility in Irish Town with servings of coffee, fruit juices and various breakfast snacks, was opened and introduced by Johnny Gaggero, Chairman of M H Bland and Nuria Sacconne, Head of Destination Services at Blands Travel. Apologies were presented by the Gibraltar Taxi Association, whose representatives were unfortunately ill that morning.
The format of the seminar was to be open and informal. The businesses present were invited to discuss the issues around tourism – both positive and negative – with a view to follow up later in the year with a second seminar that would be more structured and where these views and concerns could be communicated and discussed with government representatives.
At the very sharp end of the tourism sector, Mr Gaggero and Ms Sacconne’s experiences of tourism as it has grown and developed in Gibraltar over the past few years was invaluable to give business representatives a thorough overview of the tough and complex issues involved. Tourism is one of Gibraltar’s key industries, and many secondary businesses – shops, restaurants and hospitality, event management, and even cleaning, gardening, grounds maintenance and personal services businesses – rely on tourism for their income. If tourism has shortcomings, there exists a threat to those small businesses.
The meeting acknowledged that the government’s push to event-led tourism and that investment in the Upper Rock and attractions have led to some success in developing tourism. However, this success and the possibility of future growth, came the message from the membership, appears to be hampered by issues associated with transport. Discussion on the problems of physically getting tourists from their arrival points to the various destinations of interest around the Rock was lengthy, and it was clear it is becoming increasingly imperative for solutions to be found that work in a long-term, sustainable way, that work for the main tourism businesses and all the subsidiary businesses alongside these, and, ultimately, for the people of Gibraltar. Attention was given to discussion of environmental issues, not least the need to make sure Gibraltar is a pleasant, attractive place where wildlife and nature is respected and valued and adds to the attraction: it is in balancing these needs and the need for growth that the challenge clearly lies.
A salient feature of this particular seminar was the willingness of members present to open up to ideas, to make suggestions that consider the application of technological advances and seemingly futuristic solutions – none of them impossible, some of them simply technically challenging. It was also interesting to note the enthusiasm behind developing Gibraltar as a destination of choice, not just a brief stop-over on a cruise or a day trip, but a place where a stay is a holiday experience in itself.
The Breakfast Club seminar on Tourism made for an interesting and stimulating start, not just to the working day, but also to the opening of discussions between businesses and between business and government.