Caribbean aims for right balance of sustainable tourism product: CTO

Caribbean region

Caribbean region

NAR: Increasing the number of tourists visiting the Caribbean region while maintaining the right balance for a sustainable tourism product and the continued preservation of the environment continues to be the focus of the Caribbean Tourism Organization.

Secretary-general Hugh Riley told me about the focus of the campaign.

TAPE:         It's Keeping the Right Balance, Rising above the Numbers and that's really the essence of it. The numbers tell us what tourism contributes to the Caribbean economy. It tells us that it employs across the region 1 in 4 of our people; it tells us that it's good for about US $40 billion a year into the Caribbean economies. But it also tells us that despite the fact that this is the machine that helps to improve our livelihood, it tells us that there are some consequences if we do not in fact pay attention to the preservation of our economy, to the preservation of our assets for future generations. So, that's really what that theme means. It's about the economic benefits that tourism clearly will bring to the Caribbean, but we must make sure that it continues to do that – not just for us but for our children and for their children.

Donn: So, how is the region moving towards sustainability of the tourism market?

Riley:           The objective is to bring together – two kinds of   participants one – the experts; the been there done that kinds of examples that we can bring to the table and to bring together the people who are interested in learning more – giving their input  and making sure that they leave here with some resolve – individually and collectively to change some things.

Donn: It's been said time and again that the Caribbean has the God-given gift of natural beauty and the ideal place for tourism. That not withstanding, we are getting a lot of challenges from other regions of the world, how can we combat those challenges ?

Riley:           One of the things is that tourism is one of the most resilient business in the world and it certainly is the largest travel and tourism business. Travel and tourism is now the largest business on the planet. So, it natural for most countries to want to get involved in the tourism business so the Caribbean is no longer unique in the lock that we had on tourism many years ago. What we have to do is to keep on improving the offer that we make to the world and improving that in several ways. First of all, the product needs to be continually regenerated – freshened and re-generated and kept exciting. We have to change with the demand that the customer has. Secondly, we really have to pay a great deal of attention to the experience. And the experience that we offer to our guests doesn't have to do with plant, it has to do with the quality of the service that we provide; it has to do with the warmth of the hospitality that we are legendary for. The fact is we have to pay attention to all of the aspects that fix that experience. Clearly, we have to pay attention to the accessibility and clearly we have to deal with the issues (that we are dealing with here at this conference) – and that is the sustainability of the product that we sell in the Caribbean.

Donn: Someone mentioned the challenges facing the Caribbean, including the way we do business – the way that we deal with the tourists, do you see those as challenges that can probably be overcome?

Riley:           Well I think they are challenges that can be overcome. I think the issue of training is one. …We spent a lot of time ( and will spend more time of this conference) talking about that important resource that we have – the human resource. You probably heard us talk about the TVS which is the total visitor satisfaction rating which the Caribbean has now started to embrace. This is going to be a first not just for the Caribbean but for any region of the world – creating a total visitor satisfaction standard – a quality standard  making sure that our region more than any other region in the world focuses on fixing that experience, delivering a quality experience that is beyond the expectation of the visitor and that really is what we are talking about when we describe total visitor satisfaction and it comes down to a very simple precept. We say that if we are the most tourism dependent region in the world, we must care more.

NAR: Secretary-General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization Hugh Riley.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.

 Duration: 4’33″

Filed under Caribbean News.
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