Stronger partnerships are needed to sustain tourism growth in the Caribbean.
The call for continued collaborative partnerships between the region’s public and private sectors came at the opening of the Caribbean Travel Marketplace in The Bahamas.
Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association president Karolin Troubetzkoy described 2016 as a year of “mixed blessings” for the industry.
But she said the private sector organisation was resolved to continue answering the call from Bahamas’ prime minister Perry Christie for greater collaboration across the region’s key partners.
“Last year, you issued a challenge to CHTA, CTO (Caribbean Tourism Organization), and groups like CARICOM (Caribbean Community) to work together to fully realise the potential which tourism holds for our economies and our people,” Troubetzkoy told Christie.
“Prime minister, I am pleased to tell you that CHTA and CTO have answered your call, and are advancing initiatives which we believe can help make our region and our industry realise its full tourism potential.”
But she admitted that tourism was challenged with forces that tested the region’s fortitude.
This included “an unusually warm winter in some originating markets, a weak Canadian currency, Brexit, travel patterns affected by the Olympic Games, US elections and political uncertainty around the globe to Zika and finally to our most unwanted visitor, Hurricane Matthew”.
The CTO has designated 2017 as the Year of Adventure and the Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.
“Adventure and sustainability well-define much of our appeal, and well-reflect the shifts we’ve been seeing in why people travel and what they are looking for…as the caretakers and marketers of this global treasure that we call the Caribbean, we have not only the mandate to showcase it to the world but also to ensure it is protected, enhanced and sustained,” said Troubetzkoy.
“That’s why issues like climate change, the development of our people, and the preservation of our natural, cultural and historical resources are intertwined with our marketing and indeed our marketability.
Marketing the Caribbean should embrace new and changing technologies to reach customers in addition to the changing visitor interests and expectations.