Caribbean tourists expect more value

Visitors to the Caribbean have
higher expectations, according to the new chairman of the Caribbean Tourism
Organisation.

“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.

“Our visitor also has access to
many more warm weather vacation options than ever before,” said Richard
Skerritt, addressing delegates at the Caribbean Tourism Organisation Leadership
Strategy Conference in Barbados.

Worldwide competition

Mr. Skerritt said that it has been
a difficult time for the tourism industry.

“It is no secret that the world has
changed significantly over the past two years as a result of global economic
conditions. While we have proven in the past that Caribbean tourism is
resilient and that we, collectively, can rise to meet challenges and continue
to be one of the world’s leading tourism areas, we know it will take a
well-thought strategy to regain and surpass the arrival levels we were attracting
in 2007 and 2008.

“The good news is that stopover
travel is beginning to rebound in our region, albeit more slowly than predicted
from some markets. And fortunately for many of our destinations, cruise lines
have continued to arrive at our shores with full cabins even at the height of
the economic recession,” said the minister.

He added that the Caribbean brand
was world-famous for its pristine beaches, wonderful weather and welcoming
people.

“But we still must deliver service
on a world-class level if we are to compete effectively with world-wide
destinations. 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.”

Mr. Skerritt, the minister of
tourism and international transport for St. Kitts and Nevis, succeeded John
Maginley of Antigua and Barbuda as the tourism body’s chairman after a vote at
the conference, which brings together ministers and directors of tourism from
governments across the Caribbean.

“These are challenging times for
tourism around the world, but no sector is more critical to our region’s
economic future.

“I believe that with the right
leadership strategy … we can achieve our goal of establishing the Caribbean
as the world’s premier warm-weather travel destination, with genuinely caring
people and world-class products.”

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