‘Navigating the Next Phase of Caribbean Tourism’

The last five years have seen the Caribbean tourism sector face periods of growth and periods of uncertainty and even decline with fluctuating oil prices influencing the cost of travel; extreme weather events impacting livelihoods in the region and in the marketplace; new and emerging destinations prompting greater global tourism competition; the on-going trade wars which threaten the stability of the global economy; and a growing and mobile labour market facilitated by the CARICOM Single Market and Economy. However, the Caribbean region continues to skillfully navigate these economic, environmental and political occurrences to demonstrate its resilience and its thrust towards sustainable growth.

Despite the ebb and flow in regional tourism performance, what is certain is that opportunities abound for the Caribbean travel and tourism industry. With the UNWTO predicting that international arrivals to the Caribbean are set to increase by 1.7% per annum over the period 2020-2030, there will be more visitors to welcome, more experiences to provide, more demands to be met, more jobs created, and more revenue generated.

While the opportunities in the Caribbean are tremendous, our ability to grasp and capitalise on them is dependent on several variables; two key ones being the region’s talent pool and the sector’s ability to attract, retain and develop high-quality talent; and ubiquitous technology and how this is leveraged to drive the continued growth and competitiveness of the region’s tourism industry. In light of these realities, questions emerge which need to be urgently addressed, such as how will technology continue to transform the labour landscape? Is the sector being strategic in its workforce planning & development? Is there a strong business case being built for investing in talent to meet future workforce needs? How can a balance be struck, and optimisation achieved, between artificial intelligence (AI) and humans?