(eTN) – Newly-elected chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and St. Kitts Tourism Minister Richard Skerrit said that there are indicators within the region that tourism is beginning to rebound although some markets are moving slower than predicted.
Despite the good news, he warned that the expectation of incoming visitors will be significantly different to those of the past. “It is a different visitor who is arriving in the Caribbean now than in the past. This visitor is more demanding, expecting maximum value for money, and is more discerning, seeking a more spiritually fulfilling vacation experience that includes more interaction with local people and a deeper connection with our land and culture,” he said as he delivered his inaugural address during the opening ceremony of the first CTO Leadership Strategy Conference, which is taking place in Barbados from October 8-11, 2010.
Skerrit said that although the Caribbean brand is well known throughout the world for pristine beaches, wonderful weather, and welcoming people, this must not be taken for granted, and all tourism stakeholders must make it their duty to deliver service on a world-class level if the region is to compete effectively with world-wide destinations.
He further advised stakeholders, which included regional ministers of tourism, directors of tourism, and permanent secretaries in the ministries of tourism across the region, that the new visitor also has access to many more warm-weather vacation options than ever before.
“To be successful and competitive in this ‘new normal’ environment requires a captivating and safe destination experience, convenient and affordable airlift, a more sophisticated tourism infrastructure, and a marketing strategy that is carefully targeted, cost-effective, and closely aligned with the authentic product offerings of each of our individual destinations,” he said.
This leadership conference, Skerrit said, is providing the regional policy makers with access to some of the top tourism industry’s leaders who are sharing their insights on the key issues and their ideas of how to adapt change and grow the regional industry.
Discussion will focus on a number of areas including: airline networking and planning, attracting air carriers from the right gateways, targeting China’s new millionaires and upscale travelers, and border control within the region.