The Visitor Relations Unit was established in 1972 to handle visitor complaints. The Unit has taken a proactive approach to monitoring customer interactions and identifying corrective measures which industry partners can use to alleviate complaints. The Unit works closely with industry partners, especially in the immediate area of Prince George Dock. This includes the Straw Market, Braiding Centre, surreys, scooter rentals, and downtown merchants. In addition, the unit liaises with hotel managers (including timeshare operators) to bring satisfactory resolutions to complaints against their staff or property.
Mission of the Visitor Relations Unit:
- To do our utmost to resolve visitor complaints in a satisfactory and timely manner.
- To provide hospitable assistance to visitors who may experience challenging situations while visiting the destination.
- To acknowledge frequent visitors to The Islands of The Bahamas.
- To foster relationships with our industry partners and the general public, working with them to seek ways to better handle and cause decline in visitor complaints.
- To acknowledge and reward those persons who go beyond the call of duty in meeting the needs of our visitors.
Methods of Handling Complaints:
We try to appease visitors who have expressed dissatisfaction with the product by finding a way to solve the problem.
Complaints are acknowledged and followed up until they are satisfactorily closed. Depending on the nature of the complaint, a letter of apology and an explanation is written to the complainant. In most cases, the establishment will offer an apology and/or complimentary return accommodations, refund or reduce accommodations costs, if the establishment is found in breach of an agreement or did not provide minimum standards in service expectations.
Constant follow-ups are necessary to ensure visitor satisfaction.
The Unit does not dictate how complaints should be handled, and instead, liaises on behalf of the visitors, offering suitable suggestions. If a resolution is not satisfactory to a visitor and the Unit can get better results, we would revisit the initial problem and try to do so.
Once a complaint is received, instant steps are taken to ensure a quick and satisfactory resolution.
The Unit never takes sides with the customer or supplier, and must always remain neutral. Some complaints only require an acknowledgment letter or a phone call. Others require a personal visit to the complainant’s location in order to make a thorough investigation.
Complaints are received from visitors, Bahamas Tourist Offices, cruise ship representatives, referrals (by individuals), emails, embassies, letters, field visits, phone-in, walk-in, exit surveys.
Most complaints are concerning: Bad attitude of management or staff. Poor service by management or staff. Poor accommodations. Overcharging. Misrepresentation (especially Timeshare agents). Harassment. Refunds. Lost items. Theft. Rape.
Other Departments That Support The Visitor Relations Unit
The Visitor Relations Unit works closely with the following:
- Central Detective Unit (deaths, rapes, theft)
- Area Police Stations, particularly Paradise Island, Cable Beach, and the Airport
- Hospitals (accidents, deaths, illness)
- Embassies (lost travel documents, complaints, deaths)
- Hotels (to secure discounted rooms for visitors in need)
- All government departments
- Road Traffic/Port Authority
- Other units within BMOT
- General public
- Scooter and jet-ski rentals
- Attorney General’s office (legal cases)
Criminal matters are usually brought to our attention by the police or C.D.U., the American Embassy, the local newspapers or radio stations. Visitor Relations assists visitors with retrieving Police reports (requests must be made in writing) and having airline tickets penalties waived.
The Unit is now placing on database crimes that involve visitors, such as rapes, thefts or death, and complaints on taxi drivers, braiders and scooter rental personnel. This database will also provide information on the number of patients (visitors) attended to at local hospitals on a monthly basis.
Awareness/Commendation Programme: Certificate of Appreciation
The Visitor Relations Unit provides incentives to outstanding Bahamians. Certificates of Appreciation are awarded and signed by the Minister of Tourism and are presented to those individuals who have gone beyond the call of duty to assist our visitors. Certificates signed by the Minister of Tourism and gift baskets are given to tourists who have been coming to The Bahamas for 25 consecutive visits. Our Public Relations Department provides media coverage of the meeting.
The Unit has a complaint/commendation HELPLINE. The telephone number is 326-HELP, or 326-4537. This line is answered by the Visitor Relations Staff between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday and on weekends and holidays. It is answered by our Reception Services staff until 10:00 p.m. Email contact can be made at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ms. Bernadette Saunders
Visitor Relations Unit
The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism
P. O. Box N-3701 Nassau, Bahamas
Tel: (242) 397-2739