The global travel and tourism industry is rebounding and offering the Caribbean a unique opportunity to step up its efforts to ensure a strong, bright winter season for the region's leading economic driver.
The United States, one of the region’s biggest sources of travellers, is showing an easing of inflation which should positively impact the global economic environment as colder days approach the northern climes.
As such, Caribbean travel and tourism stakeholders can feel reasonably upbeat about prospects for a strong 2022-2023 season as pre-pandemic performance levels return. But this does not mean we can rest on our laurels.
The Caribbean is competing against destinations across the entire planet to attract visitors, and we still enjoy only a very small percentage of the world’s tourism pie. The good news is that our rate of recovery is robust relative to many of our global competitors, but in order to maintain this momentum (as one of my colleagues explained), we need to bring our “A-game” to the table.
Much more than simply commitment and hard work, this requires vision, foresight and some boldness. It also demands a constant refreshing and renewal of our tourism product.
Delivering consistent, world-class customer service must be the norm, not the exception. Hoteliers such as Patricia Affonso-Dass (Barbados), Josef Forstmayr (Jamaica), Gregor Nassief (Dominica), Karolin Troubetzkoy (St. Lucia), Karen Whitt (Turks and Caicos Islands), and many of their peers are to be congratulated for embracing this standard and for their personal and corporate investment in hospitality training programs for the region’s people.
“A-game” thinking also requires an innovative approach to marketing, sales and communications. Being able to continually educate and incentivize travel industry buyers and sellers is important because they influence markets. We have to present and promote our Caribbean brand as unique, modern and sustainable. And we have to show how we are refreshing our product.
Investing in dynamic communications strategies, including public relations, will increase awareness about the region, especially if we refresh our audio-visual assets to project the best of the Caribbean.
The digital terrain is changing constantly. To remain relevant, we must engage the best brains to monitor and navigate these changes, develop captivating content and ensure that content is reaching the right audience so we can garner the best possible return on our investment.
With the Caribbean Tourism Organization, the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, and the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association staging back-to-back conferences over the next several weeks (in the Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, respectively), the region has an important opportunity to strengthen smart partnerships to produce winning strategies. As winter 2022-2023 approaches, let’s make sure we deliver on the brand promise we have become known for the world over.