On our return trip from visiting our neem farm in Paraguay, Nick and I had the pleasure of visiting with friends in San Jose, Costa Rica, a country with over 5 million people.
What was most impressive to us was the hospitality of the people. We traveled within the city and to several rural areas visiting family farms and large commercial coffee plantations. Employees were well informed and genuinely displayed a sense of ownership in the business where they worked. Excellent service with a sense of pride and gratitude for us visiting their country.
Apart from their crazy road systems that gives the feeling of going around in circles like bumper cars, everywhere was relatively clean and orderly. We never felt threatened and were always greeted with smiling faces. From the local markets where the local community shopped and ate to family operated businesses, service was always offered with a gracious attitude. Most impressive was a spirit of entrepreneurship everywhere.
At the airport we were met with hospitality on arrival and on departure the airport offered the best of gift selections from the smallest item to the most expensive creations all from local production. It was very hard not to over spend right up to the last minute!
By contrast, coming from a country where tourism is our #1 industry, we could learn so many lessons from the Costa Ricans.
Immigration needs to be more welcoming with smiling faces and a gracious attitude.
Service needs to transmit a feeling of gratitude not servitude.
Public spaces need to be treated as a reflection of our respect for ourselves and our environment. More focus on general upkeep and maintenance. Better landscaping.
Museums and points of interest on all islands focusing on our history.
Shopping needs to incorporate more local production. There is a need for an institute to encourage and develop more artisan talent. Junkanoo souvenirs as a national gift theme celebrating our national festival.
Public service operators need better education about our country and statistics that most visitors will be curious about.
Education in schools needs to include a program on hospitality and social studies including current events.
Maybe by taking an attitude of gratitude and engaging the general public this focus could have a positive trickle-down effect at the family and community level. We need to get back to being the people that made us a #1 tourist destination in the first place, the Bahamas was known first for its hospitality then for its sea, sun and sandy beaches.
While the government is trying to do its part in cleaning up its ministries that work for us, the churches and civic organizations and citizens need to get active working in unison to achieve a common goal of healthier living in the Bahamas with respect for ourselves, our neighbors and our environment. By generally being kinder, more compassionate and more civic minded we can return to the “Tru Tru” Bahamian of yesterday.
-Nick & Daphne Miaoulis
Abaco Neem “To Help the Body Heal”