Caribbean Tourism Conference to focus on Product, Partnership and Profitability

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Product, partnership and profitability will get attention at the Caribbean Tourism Organisation -CTO sustainable conference

Delegates attending the region's premier gathering on sustainable tourism will delve into some areas that impact their bottom line. The CTO's 14thSustainable Tourism Conference (STC-14) takes place in Trinidad and Tobago from April 5-18th .

I asked Gail Henry, CTO's Sustainable Tourism Product Specialist what will be the focus and theme of the conference.

TAPE: The theme of this year's conference is "Keeping the Right Balance – Enhancing Destination Sustainability though Products, Partnerships, Profitability. So that's the overall focus of the Conference.

Donn:You mentioned enhancing. How do you go about enhancing visitor satisfaction?

TAPE:Well, part of the whole theme of Destination Sustainability around which this conference is pinned basically include that element of ultimately satisfying visitors by creating experiences where it's more than just mastering some type of experience but you are trying to appeal to visitors who also are looking to travel responsibly or travel to destinations that promote sustainable tourism and in that way, we will be reaching that group of travellers as well by ensuring that our destination do develop their destination and manage them in a more sustainable manner. And that really means that they pay attention to environmental management issues, social issues and make sure that tourism contributes directly to communities and their wider economies. By doing so, eventually you would reach that particular segment of the market which is growing.

Donn:How can Caribbean tourism benefit from this?

TAPE:Well, Caribbean tourism is significant in terms of the whole socio-economic development of the region. The tourism industry a main economic pillar for most of our member countries and we have 31 member countries at the moment. And we are part of the whole tourism global landscape and it means that this region has to compete with other regions who are also promoting tourism in their specific destination. And in order to do that we need to really drive sustainability in the region. CTO, we're leading on tourism sustainability and that's what this conference is really about. In terms of when we ensure that we pay attention to these 3 pillars of sustainability – the economic, social, environmental – we can create tourism part of an experience that travellers remember, they enjoy and they would like to return to our region and to be able to feel satisfied that they have made a contribution to the region.

Donn:Who are the people who would be attending the conference?

TAPE:This conference typically attracts a range of attendees. This conference is for anybody and it attracts a wide range of persons from students and academic persons to practitioners in the field, people who are involved in all aspects of tourism and related sectors from the marketing side, from the part of development side, from the policy side. And even it attracts private sector persons who are involved in the industry or related industry as well as public sector officials so it really is for anyone who is interested in tourism.

Donn: I would imagine there would be discussions and presentations on these various aspects of the product.

TAPE: Definitely. This conference always follows a format that is varied and a format that is of interest to everyone. There will be a number of panel discussions on topics that link up the overall theme in terms of creating and managing sustainable Caribbean destinations. We are going to present some good practices and sustainable tourism from some of our countries within the region. We are also going to have a panel discussion looking at the whole issue of our need to rethink the way we brand our destination and how we market our destinations that attract the segment that I spoke about, these sustainable and responsible travellers. We also have bookshop sessions where we are going to go into more depth in terms of some of these related issues in terms of how do we create multi-stakeholder partnerships in order to accomplish this objective of creating and managing these sustainable destinations in the region; how do we market to those people given the trends we are seeing for demand for responsible and sustainable traveller. How do we build destination networks that could help us to manage our destinations more sustainably We also have …. sessions that we are going to grant a more dept … in to some of these releases….. How do we create multi stakeholders partnership in order to accomplish this objective of creating and managing the sustainable definition in the region.. How do we market to seduce people in giving the… those type of travellers giving the trend we are seeing for demand for responsible and sustainable travel. How do we build our destination network that could help us to manage our destinations more sustainability. How can we collaborate with tour operators and other big players in the industry in order to…. As well. We also have special presentations. We have study tours which is the practical side of the Conference, an entire day is devoted to that. On Wednesday April 17th, I will be going to some exciting places in Trinidad and Tobago featuring there Trinidad and Tobago heritage, their culture, their cuisine, the natural environment going to many different parts of Trinidad and Tobago. And we have a special youth session that we introduced a few years ago and very importantly our sustainable tourism award winners that we presented with the award at a special function during the Conference. It is quite a mix.

Donn: As you mentioned Trinidad and Tobago which is hosting the Conference, when one thinks of Trinidad and Tobago they think of Carnival basically culture tourism or Trinidad and Tobago famous for the exporting oil and natural gas. What else would be Trinidad and Tobago offer to the tourist?

TAPE:Trinidad and Tobago's tourism product is quite diversified. As a national of Trinidad myself, I can tell you first hand that the typical sand and sea side of tourism is really mostly housed in Tobago. Not that we don't have nice beaches in Trinidad but when you think about Tobago that it is the first that people relate to Tobago. But we also have in Trinidad and Tobago, apart from the cultural tourism, there's heritage attractions. In fact, some of the study tours are taking you to places like that, including highlighting the Indo-Caribbean heritage because as you know we have a very diverse population there which is reflected throughout in terms of cuisine, music, other aspects of culture etc, and there is a significant nature-based tourism product in Trinidad and Tobago which all delegates should experience during their study tours. They will be doing tours like hiking, kayaking, just experiencing nature, talking to NGOs and groups involved in promoting community-based type of tourism projects; projects that involve protecting the endangered leather back turtle which has made its home in Trinidad and Tobago during the nesting season, so it's quite a range of tourism products being offered by Trinidad and Tobago.

NAR: Gail Henry, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation -CTO's Sustainable Tourism Product Specialist.

This is Donn Bobb.

Duration: 7’11″

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