“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”- 2 Corinthians 9:6
Caribbean tourism is a business where the value proposition clearly communicates the product and services our warm weather destinations can deliver to our “customers”. It has the potential to be exploited as an even stronger engine of Caribbean economic growth.
Caribbean tourism includes agricultural linkages and touches countless areas of economic activity, including community development, meetings/incentives, cruise, cultural, eco/environmental, education/training, farm stays, flora/fauna, health/wellness, long stay, marine, medical/rehabilitation, faith/spirituality, sports, weddings and more.
Source markets include Africa, The Americas, China, Europe, Russia and Southeast Asia. So far, we have only scratched the surface in terms of making these vast audiences aware of the boundless attractiveness of our tourism product.
The economic gearing system is central to investment in the tourism sector. It is depicted by three connected gears of different sizes. The biggest gear brings in visitors from far and wide and drives the system. This is facilitated by air and cruise arrivals.
The second gear provides the hospitality framework, including accommodations, food and beverage, entertainment, attractions and activities, and infrastructural revitalization that is consistent with consumer demand. This is facilitated by local as well as foreign investment.
The smallest, fastest spinning gear, coupled with the other two, can build up phenomenal momentum, creating commensurate employment and steady economic growth in the system. This is facilitated by enterprise development but requires a shepherding function and a self-sustaining system of seed, equity and working capital funding.
I recall a visitor from Japan who was on a mercy mission to Barbados on behalf of a friend, a disabled Japan resident. This visitor contacted me randomly on social media and explained that his friend had asked him to travel to Barbados while he was vacationing in New York and visit his daughter who was working with the United Nations in Barbados.
This Japanese gentleman asked if I would meet with him and be a sounding board for his visit. I agreed. When we met over a meal, he shared that he had been doing some exploring on his own and exclaimed, “Barbados is one of the best kept secrets in the world!”
He continued that there are more than 100 million people in Japan, tens of millions of whom constitute a major potential market for Caribbean tourism, if only they were aware of the destination.
I have told many similar stories in this same vein.
Larger and more fuel-efficient cruise ships, new and rehabilitated hotel accommodations and attractions and disruptive innovation to increase efficiency and productivity will generate greater gross domestic product results and, hence, economic growth in the region.
But as we attract more visitors from around the world, we must prepare for the increasing demand for service excellence.
Just as the Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx) on sustainable tourism mounted interactive conferences to train young journalists to report responsibly and accurately on tourism, we must introduce similar training and public relations programmes for all service providers so that we are not found wanting as we compete on a global playing field.
Let Sandals Resorts International and others of their ilk serve as inspiration for the rest of us with their assertive approach to marketing and advertising as well as service excellence, which is an essential requirement for today’s discriminating visitor.
(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is a Change-Engine Consultant. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns may be found at www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com).