THEME: ONE SEA, ONE VOICE, ONE CARIBBEAN
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 1 Nov 2016. During 2015 our region has set arrival and visitor expenditure records that have surpassed expectations. Caribbean tourism grew by an estimated seven per cent to 28.7 million visits, much higher than the projected four to five per cent. This performance was above the global rate of growth, which the UN agency, the World Tourism Organization quotes at 4.4 per cent.
In that period, visitors spent over a billion dollars more than they did in 2014, contributing approximately US$30 billion to Caribbean economies. For 2016 the latest visitor arrival data indicate that tourist trips grew by 5.2% in the first six months when compared to the same period of 2015. While this is encouraging, we must not settle. We certainly cannot relax until we become the world’s most desirable year round, warm weather destination and until every citizen of the Caribbean benefits from tourism.
The first priority is to embrace our mantra of sustainable tourism development. We must keep the right balance between maximizing the benefits of our tourism assets for the wellbeing of our current populations, and do so responsibly, so that we can preserve those resources for generations to come. To maximize the benefit and preserve resources, we need to create systems that ensure that guests and hosts can equally enjoy the experience.
The economic benefits of the tourism industry are enormous. In the Caribbean, where we have a clear understanding of tourism’s contribution to financial prosperity, we are seeing more of our citizens becoming involved in ‘the sharing economy’. We are opening our homes and apartments to visitors from around the world. Ordinary citizens have become hosts. But while I have often described the essence of hospitality as “sharing space and breaking bread” our populations must also pay attention to “guestpitality”, a laser-like focus on the guest’s point of view. Indeed if hospitality is about customer service, then guestpitality must surely be about customer experience.
During Caribbean Tourism Month, which we observe every November, we will have the opportunity to place even greater emphasis on the kinds of experiences we offer to guests, which make up our exciting and diversified tourism product.
It’s also a great time to introduce new ideas, methods and products, to propose innovative and revolutionary thinking and to generate fresh energy into the sector. Throughout November, the CTO will undertake several social media activities during which member countries will be profiled on the organization’s social media platforms. These include:
- 30 Day Social Media Photo/Video Challenge featuring the people, fashion, heritage and natural attributes of the Caribbean
- Help Me Pick a Caribbean Holiday/Vacation Spot Social Media Poll
- Online Caribbean Fashion Show via Periscope & Facebook Live Marathon/Tweet-Chat
- Romantic Facts about CTO member countries
This is an excellent opportunity to be featured globally and to demonstrate to the world that the spirit of togetherness we talk so passionately about remains alive and vibrant in the Caribbean. It also helps to give meaning to the Caribbean Tourism Month theme, One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean.
We wish to encourage every CTO member country, every tourism entity and everyone engaged either directly or indirectly in tourism to join us by participating in these initiatives and by organizing at least one activity during the month that will help focus attention on the industry. Be creative, be daring, be brave, be innovative.
We’ll take this opportunity to thank the sponsors, supporters and everyone who helps us celebrate Caribbean Tourism Month.
Together, let’s keep the right focus on this important industry and reaffirm the value of One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean.