“The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to mankind.” – Psalms 115:16

In my previous column, we delved into the detrimental impact of taxation on Caribbean tourism growth, examining two specific examples.

We explored the tax on intra-Caribbean airline travel, which results in higher ticket prices that stifle demand and reduce revenue for the destinations. We also discussed the proposed head tax increase on cruise ship travelers to the Bahamas, which has the potential to divert cruise ships to more economically viable destinations.

These scenarios beg the question: Why would we not expand the industry and then tax the outputs to the benefit of Caribbean people and the stimulation of economic growth?

Today, I want to shift our focus towards a more proactive approach to maximizing Caribbean tourism arrivals and next week I shall conclude with a focus on optimizing our tourism taxation strategy to maximize total tourism spend and embracing the efficient use of sales and marketing tactics to raise the profile of individual destinations and the Caribbean region as a whole.

To sustain and expand the tourism industry, it is essential to adopt a comprehensive strategy that recognizes the interconnectedness of various sub-sectors within the overall sector. By fostering collaboration between accommodation providers and cruise lines, we can transform the cruise experience into a more comprehensive and extended stay at the destination.

Cruise conversion programs, if pursued smartly, are effective initiatives to achieve this objective. By establishing a symbiotic relationship between the cruise and long-stay tourism segments, the region can unlock its full tourism potential and provide visitors with a diverse range of options.

Furthermore, the concept of multi-destination tourism holds tremendous promise. A multi-destination trip involves visiting more than one country during a single trip. This strategy requires collaboration between two or more countries that offer and promote a joint product or route. By showcasing the unique cultural and natural attractions of the Caribbean as a whole, we can entice visitors to explore multiple destinations within the region, thereby maximizing their experience and extending their length of stay.

Diversity is another crucial element in attracting and retaining tourists. The Caribbean boasts a rich tapestry of attractions, from pristine beaches and lush rainforests to vibrant cultural heritage and historical sites. By embracing and promoting the diversity of our attractions, we can cater to a wide range of tourist interests, ensuring that each visitor finds something uniquely appealing to him or her.

However, beyond the natural beauty and attractions, what truly captivates visitors is their interaction with local communities. Community tourism allows visitors to immerse themselves in the local culture, interact with residents, and gain a deeper understanding of the destination. This engagement not only enriches the visitor experience but also generates economic opportunities for local businesses and residents. By encouraging community tourism initiatives and fostering partnerships between the tourism sector and local businesses, we can create a more resilient and self-sustaining industry that benefits both visitors and the local community.

While international tourists undoubtedly contribute significantly to the Caribbean’s tourism sector, we must not overlook the importance of staycations and regional spending. Restaurants, retail establishments, boutiques, and attractions all rely on tourist expenditure, which, in turn, generates employment opportunities and stimulates economic growth.

Governments can create a sustainable tourism ecosystem by cultivating an environment conducive to domestic spending. By incentivizing partnerships between the tourism sector and local businesses, we can stimulate domestic spending and establish a tourism industry that is more resilient to external shocks.

By focusing on smart tourism strategies, we can showcase our treasures to the world and create a brighter future for our people.

(Dr. Basil Springer GCM is a Change-Engine Consultant. His email address is basilgf@marketplaceexcellence.com. His columns may be found at www.nothingbeatsbusiness.com).