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Tuesday 12 December 2017

Junkanoo Joy in the Bahamas

I recently returned from a visit to the Bahamas, where I had the pleasure of experiencing the Atlantis Resort. This is perhaps my fifth or sixth visit to this island, however, several things stood out to me on this particular journey that spoke to the measurable impact of direct investment in human capital.

The social scientist in me makes it a study to review many variables when examining the service ethos in various countries. These variables include the experience, investment in the experience, service values and culture, and the undertaking of a people-centred focus.

Immediately upon checking in, in addition to the splendour of the infrastructure, what is instantly noticeable is the joy and pride demonstrated by each individual greeting or welcoming you into their space. And I say this very intentionally, as even though the island that hosts the Atlantis resort is indeed a business-owned space, the bridge developed between Paradise Island and the mainland of Nassau, was just one of the many initiatives undertaken to include the Bahamian locals as an important and integral part of the process of development. So essentially, it is their space, private or not, and you are welcomed, not only as guests of the resort, but guests of the island.

This ethos is engrained into the psyche, as it is evident that what is being presented is more than sun sea and sand (even though these ingredients are top notch).

What is being presented is a multi-dimensional experience that includes a combination of natural resources, heritage, culture, gastronomy, history and art, all encapsulated in an exquisitely packaged encounter. To hear the artists speak about their inclusion into the world of the Atlantis experience, whilst highlighting their ‘Bahamian’s’ through their artwork, adds to the importance of the sharing of stories, journeys and personal experiences.

As you move through the corridors, what are highlighted are not the water parks and features, but the artwork by the local artists, large, colourful, meaningful expressions of where you are and who they are.

Their carnival type experience, or Junkanoo, remains subject to long and passionate debates. Many believing it was established by John Canoe, a legendary West African Prince, who outwitted the English and became a local hero; and others suspecting it comes from the French ‘gens inconnus,’ which translates as ‘unknown’ or ‘masked people’. The most popular belief, however, is that it developed from the days of slavery.

The influx of Loyalists in the late 18th Century brought many enslaved people who were given three days off at Christmas, which they celebrated by singing and dancing in colourful masks, travelling from house to house, often on stilts. Junkanoo nearly vanished after slavery was abolished but the revival of the festival in The Bahamas now provides entertainment for many thousands.

[Source, www.bahamas.co.uk].

With this in mind, the consistent influx of tourists, as at 2016, which stood at 4.6 million visitors (approx 1 mil per quarter) by the Frist port of entry (Cruise ship arrivals only, does not include air arrivals.

Tourismtoday.com) demonstrates that the consistent, clear, precise, deliberate investment in natural and human resources and in experiential marketing continues to be a winning formula. The Junkanoo experience, though an essential part of the experience, is used as the foundation for the build out of a total package.

In essence, a single purpose, clear vision, consistent effort, investment in human and natural capital, will contribute to fostering and marketing any authentic experience.


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