US Congresswoman, Dr. Donna Christian Christensen told tourism delegates who are currently in St. Kitts for the Caribbean Tourism Organisation Conference that the Caribbean has to find attributes that are unique to the region and those that best represent its culture, traditions and heritage, when developing programs to market and sell the destinations to potential visitors.
She said the Caribbean is facing competition from other parts such as the Americas, Pacific and even the Middle East and so improvement, maturation and even transformation are elements that have to be embraced by tourism planners.
Christensen also explained that although tourism remains the world’s largest industry, what its consumers today are looking for, go beyond sand and sea, which any number of places are able to provide, even though they are no way near to the quality available in the Caribbean.
She revealed that the World Tourism Organisation predicts that most of the increase in European tourism receipts over the coming decade will come from alternative forms of travel, not involving the sun and sand tourism.
The Congresswoman added that to address the challenges successfully, tourism cannot be just another one of government’s many silos, it cannot be a separate or isolated issue set a apart from health, public safety, education or any other part of government; it has to be an integral part of policies planning and operations.
She stated that as small island states and territories, each with limited resources, with similar offerings, needs, concerns and threats, they have to tackle the challenges together as region.
The demand is there and if the region is to compete, it must respond and there is much the countries can learn from each other, said Christensen.
Despite the difficulties and obstacles the Congresswoman remained confident that the region has the expertise in the individual countries and therefore the Caribbean is capable of conceptualizing cultural heritage assets that can be consumed like any other product to satisfy a need or a want of visitors.