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One Caribbean Tourism may have a bright future

Movers CTO

The movers and shakers of Caribbean Tourism today made some giant steps forward, if the ideas by Jamaica’s minister could become reality.

The Hon. Kenneth Bryan, minister of tourism for the Cayman Islands, was elected as the new Chair for the Counselor of Ministers of the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

Connectivity, promotions, and deeper cooperation between Caribbean Countries were the main discussion today at the CTO conference in the Cayman Islands.

Bryan confirmed to eTurboNews yesterday that connectivity and cooperation between CTO countries are on his top agenda.

The Jamaica Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, laid out the ideas he had presented earlier today to his fellow ministers and shared them with eTurboNews:

Multi-destination arrangements are aligned with the broader push to align the tourist sector with regional integration and development.

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Regionalism has been long established as a viable framework for promoting integration and cooperation in trade and other areas to enhance a region’s competitiveness, deepen its integration into the global economy and address major socio-economic problems such as poverty and unemployment. Generally, tourism tends to favor the circulation of people, capital, goods, and knowledge which can positively impact economic and cultural integration.

The tourism industry is highly competitive and demands sustainable and innovative marketing strategies to ensure long-term success. This has made it increasingly necessary to strengthen cooperation networks between countries to increase, and better share the revenues generated by tourism.

Exploring multi-destination arrangements reflects a response to the call made by the UNWTO for various regional governments to explore incentives and strategies to strengthen regional airline carriers; enhance intra-regional travel; and, through joint airlift agreements, increase linkages between regional- and international-based airlines as part of a broad-based strategy to boost tourist arrivals.

The promotion of multi-destination arrangements in tourism is consistent with the growing view by tourism experts that the future fortunes of tourism in specific regions may lie in economic convergence between complementary economies rather than stand-alone approaches.

The suggestion is that economies of a similar size with shared vulnerabilities, similar levels of development, and shared geographical borders could better achieve complementarily and integrate better from an economic and commercial perspective.

This would constitute a rational approach to economic integration that will allow the benefits of tourism to spread across more economies in a region, thereby generating more economic opportunities for more people.

To overcome the challenges and limitations of some regional destinations, it has been suggested that a region can gain a competitive advantage and thus enhance sustainability if it can package and market its varied attractions more cohesively to entice potential visitors.

Thus, the value of a multi-destination arrangement is that, as an approach to tourism development, it adds value to the tourism experience while expanding the benefits of Tourism to more than one destination.

In this regard, multi-destination tourism can be considered a complementary means to diversify regional tourism industries while capitalizing on a region’s natural and cultural assets and contributing to social and economic growth.

From a regional perspective, given the increasing popularity of niche market tourism, a multi-destination travel option presents an opportunity for regional destinations to tap into new markets by promoting the natural, historical and cultural attributes of each country.

From a visitor’s perspective, a multi-destination tourism package will afford travelers the opportunity to experience different destinations/localities, with each experience fulfilling a different desire of the visitor.

In establishing multi-destination arrangements, a critical mass will also be created for large investments in hotels and accommodations, attractions and site development manufacturing, food production, and cultural and creative enterprises.

Overall, more locals will become engaged in the tourism value chain, and small and medium-sized businesses will enter the market, providing more goods and services, employing more persons, and generating more government revenues.

Several destinations in the Americas have already begun to explore multi-destination arrangements. Government agencies, tourism boards, and private companies from seven countries in Central America have launched a joint partnership to promote multi-destination travel in the region, offering travel packages at special rates.

Eight packages are being promoted, and tours include destinations in two, three, or even all seven countries.

Options include offers to enjoy, for example, ecotourism in Costa Rica, culture in Guatemala, and beach destinations along the Caribbean coastline in Honduras.

Similarly, Jamaica currently has four multi-destination arrangements with the government of Cuba, The Dominica Republic, and Panama, and another is in the pipeline.

Despite its tremendous potential to enhance tourism competitiveness within regions, there is a general recognition that successful multi-destination arrangements require attention to certain factors.

Establishing multi-destination arrangements will require the willingness and commitment on the part of the countries to coordinate marketing, product development, and investment strategies as one region while continuing to develop their unique attractions.

Governments must work closely to examine the issues of tourism costs, air connectivity, the harmonization of visa policies, airspace usage, and pre-clearance arrangements.

One possibility that can be effectively explored is adopting measures that enable tourists to travel more conveniently to and among the countries within a region, such as visa waivers for select countries or multiple entry visas.

Overall, regional governments and the private sector must collaborate more closely to advance market integration by fostering and harmonizing legislation on air connectivity, visa facilitation, product development, promotion, and human capital.

Governments are also urged to explore incentives and strategies to strengthen regional carriers, enhance intra-regional travel, and through joint airlift agreements, increase linkages between regional- and international-based airlines as part of a broad-based strategy to boost tourist arrivals.

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About the author

Juergen T Steinmetz

Juergen Thomas Steinmetz has continuously worked in the travel and tourism industry since he was a teenager in Germany (1977).
He founded eTurboNews in 1999 as the first online newsletter for the global travel tourism industry.

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