Caribbean Small Tourism Enterprises Project (STEP)
The Caribbean Small Tourism Enterprises Project (STEP) is a regional initiative of the Organization of American States (OAS) aimed at assisting small tourism operators to enhance their competitiveness, profitability and sustainability. STEP has been in operation in Trinidad and Tobago since 2007, under the Tourism Development Company as one of its flagship programmes.
|STEP Vision:||To become a globally recognised programme facilitating the growth and development of small tourism enterprises in Trinidad and Tobago.|
|STEP Mission:||To provide systematic, comprehensive and sustainable professional and organizational development programmes, that promote high performance and profitability among MSMEs (Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises).|
|Strategic Objective:||To position TDC’s STEP as the premiere organization for skills development and institutional strengthening of small tourism stakeholders through innovation, resource mobilization and industry-relevant capacity building initiatives.|
STEP develops and hosts training and capacity building programmes to ensure optimal contribution of small tourism businesses to the national economic development. All programmes conducted in Trinidad are mirrored in Tobago to elicit simultaneous growth on both islands.
STEP focuses on tour operators, tour guides, tourist transport service providers and accommodation providers of less than seventy-five (75) rooms. The programme continues to make significant contributions to the development of the tourism industry by providing a comprehensive approach to fostering innovation, high performance and profitability among small entrepreneurs through cutting edge and industry relevant development training. At the core of the training and capacity building initiatives is correction of certain dysfunctions which have been inimical to efficient operation of these tourism service providers. It must be noted however, that all programmes are crafted in response to the needs and challenges articulated by the small tourism operators. In this regard, STEP seeks to accomplish the following:
- Supports multi-disciplinary skills for national tourism development;
- Provide training for upgrading skill sets in alignment with the efficient execution of duties and functions, whilst ensuring that all development initiatives can lead to responsible sustainable growth of the industry;
- Increase employment opportunities in the SME environment;
- Facilitate development of small business entrepreneurship;
- Generate a more empowered workforce.
Some of the programmes and workshops regularly hosted by STEP are:
- The Art of Networking: The objective of this programme is to nurture the capability of small tourism operators to connect with potential customers and forge relationships that will convert into successful business transactions.
- Interior Decorating on a Budget: This programme is designed for the Small Accommodation Owners of Trinidad and Tobago (STAOTT). Its main objective is to reinforce the importance of maintaining and upgrading their properties. The facilitator visits each participant’s property to give suggestions on cost effective measures that can be utilized to create an environment conducive to domestic and international visitors. The duration of this programme is six (6) weeks.
- First Aid Training: This workshop equips stakeholders with the necessary skills and knowledge required for first responders in emergency medical situations.
- Maximising the Customer Experience Workshops: Designed specifically for tourism transport providers, the workshop’s main objective is to ensure that participants are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to retain current customers, build loyalty and attract new and potential customers. A major outcome of this development and improvement training project, is to develop a ‘charter’ that would outline what visitors can expect from the tourist transport providers, whilst reinforcing the value of consistent quality service.
- Defensive Driving Workshop: The objective of this workshop is to provide theoretical and practical techniques to avoid accidents and to choose safe, responsible and lawful diving behaviours essential for our tourist transport providers.
- Empowering Tourism Entrepreneurs Symposium: A one-day symposium designed to educate and inform tourism stakeholders on the importance of entrepreneurial thinking and to further develop an entrepreneurial mind set. The programme emphasizes the use of technology within the industry, effective business planning, easy and cost effective marketing, networking and employee management. Practical sessions showcase how the information presented could be immediately implemented in the participants’ businesses.
- Tourism Tour Guiding Safety and Security Symposium: This symposium creates an opportunity for tour guides, tourism officials’ security experts and other key stakeholders to discuss issues of safety and security for visitors, when exploring sites and attractions. In the past, facilitators have included representatives from the Ministry of National Security, the Organisation of American States (OAS), a security expert from Mexico and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). Discussion topics include:
- Tour Guiding Safety and Security
- Crisis Management and Recovery
- Impact of Global Health Factors
- Image, Grooming, Protocol and Business Etiquette: The programme gives participants the tools to avoid costly blunders through the use of correct forms of greetings, to select the appropriate conversations, mingle, operate with confidence and a practical session on proper dining skills. Participants also learn how to interpret non-verbal cues from international guests as well as internal and external customers, and how to maintain positive business relationships, which in turn will impact favourably on their profitability and longevity as tourist ambassadors.