Business of Tourism

David Jessop, Consultant and Non-Executive Director of the Caribbean Council, writes a fortnightly column providing a European perspective on Caribbean tourism. The column is syndicated to the Caribbean press.

An archive of the Business of Tourism can be found below.


When visitor numbers become too great

Date: 9th February 2017

Around the world, some popular tourism destinations are beginning to experience a backlash against visitors arriving in such numbers that local people are seeing their lifestyles changed, as overcrowding creates unintended economic and social consequences. The case of Venice is well known – a medieval city of 60,000 residents receiving 49m visitors – but the latest much-visited destination to react…

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Tracking the visitor’s every step

Date: 27th January 2017

Since late last year, a small number of ships in Carnival’s Princess Cruises fleet have been offering something very different on their Caribbean sailings. In order, they say, to enhance their clients’ vacations, they have introduced a new way in which those on board can, as they put it, ‘make the most of their time’, ‘be inspired to see and…

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A single word says it all

Date: 12th January 2017

One of the oddities of country branding is the desire by those responsible for marketing, or for promoting a destination, to require a short descriptive catch line to appear in all advertising and promotional material. The idea is that these few well-chosen words will encourage a potential traveller to investigate further the possibility of visiting. At their best, such expressions…

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China prepared to help with tourism development

Date: 19th December 2016

Last month, China published a detailed new policy paper on Latin America and the Caribbean in which it set out a new approach to its relations with the Americas. The document, which has real breadth and ambition, potentially offers, perhaps for the first time, an agenda around which the region can develop a practical bilateral dialogue with Beijing that can…

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The disruptive becomes the new normal

Date: 1st December 2016

The problem with disruptive technology is not just that it disrupts what we have become comfortable with, but that it has unpredictable consequences that can go far beyond what was intended. Take Airbnb, a simple idea that is a form of matchmaking between travellers and individuals with a spare room or rooms. It offers a visitor somewhere that is cheaper…

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Statistics are helpful but require closer analysis

Date: 18th November 2016

According to Hugh Riley, the Secretary General and CEO of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), visitor numbers, so far in 2016, are ahead of annual projections which had suggested that the region will see arrivals grow by four to five per cent. Mr Riley also said in a recent message to mark Caribbean Tourism Month that the numbers build on…

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Brand Trump and the tourism industry

Date: 3rd November 2016

Mixing business and politics is regarded in most countries as unacceptable because of the conflict of interest it creates. The issue becomes particularly acute if the politician concerned not only seeks to link his campaign to his commercial interests, but also, seemingly oblivious to the implications, then insults a significant proportion of his potential market. For this reason, the willingness…

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Dollar denominated tourism and sterling

Date: 19th October 2016

As  November  begins,  many,  if  not  most  Caribbean  tourism  ministers,  hoteliers  and  others  in  the   industry,  will  be  heading  to  World  Travel  Market  (WTM)  in  London.    This  is  the very  large  annual   international  trade  fair  at  which  traditionally,  buyers  and  sellers  meet  to  strike  deals  for  the  year   ahead. The  2016  event  and  its  collateral  industry…

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Beaches and public access

Date: 6th October 2016

Every now and again a story appears in the Caribbean media about beach access. Although many governments, developers and hotel owners in the region feel that this is no longer an issue, it remains contentious in the minds of many Caribbean citizens. The feeling is that despite regulations, access to beaches in nations from Jamaica to St Lucia has diminished…

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To connect or not to connect

Date: 22nd September 2016

Having spent a significant part of my working life staying in hotels in the Caribbean, North and South America and in Europe, I have become accustomed to the varying, sometimes surprising, facilities and styles one finds in hotel rooms. For example, I have been given a hotel room in Switzerland that promised ‘colour therapy’ allowing me to change the lighting…

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A time to sell Caribbean tourism in the UK

Date: 8th September 2016

Earlier this year a survey undertaken by Barclays business data indicated that nearly one fifth of British travellers, when questioned about their vacation plans, said that they were planning to holiday in their own country in 2016. They gave as their reasons, terrorist attacks abroad, saving money, and wanting to cut down on travel time. Since then, Britain has voted…

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Star ratings and Caribbean hotels

Date: 24th August 2016

A few weeks ago I received an email asking me how many five star hotels there are in the Caribbean. I replied that there was no recognised or adjudicated star system anywhere in the Caribbean other than in the French département d’outre-mer, so hotels chose their own classification largely based on their marketing preference. This meant, I said, that it…

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Is the Chinese tourism market illusory?

Date: 10th August 2016

The Chinese visitor market is distinctly different from what the Caribbean is used to. Despite this, almost every Caribbean tourist board has been giving consideration to the difficult question of how best to encourage its travellers to visit. Apart from the obvious desire of all destinations to continue to diversify their source markets, the industry’s interest in the Chinese travel…

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Travel advisories and human nature

Date: 27th July 2016

The US and Canada, the countries of Europe, and others like Australia and Japan, regularly issue advisory notices to their citizens informing them about the risks they might face when traveling to particular countries. These normally address issues such as crime, terrorism or public health. In contrast it is unclear how many Caribbean nations have either in force or have…

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Preparing the Caribbean tourism industry for Brexit

Date: 13th July 2016

On June 23, by a small majority, the British people voted to leave the European Union (EU). It is a decision that has consequences for the Caribbean tourism industry. What happens next is far from clear. This is because only when a new British Prime Minister is appointed in September will a formal period of reflection begin on the future…

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Cruise ships and millennials

Date: 29th June 2016

Despite a love of being on the sea, I have never taken a cruise in the Caribbean. Although some years ago it did occur to me that if one could fit in meetings at each port of call, doing so might offer an alternative way to island hop in the Eastern Caribbean, the idea of sharing a voyage with large…

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The danger of success

Date: 15th June 2016

One of the most beautiful beaches I ever saw was Cane Garden Bay in the British Virgin Islands. I have not been there for many years, but when I visited it was virtually untouched. A pristine crescent shape, its palm fringed, white sand beach, was small enough to feel intimate, yet open enough to have views across stretches of turquoise…

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A stronger regional position on tourism required

Date: 1st June 2016

Having spent much of my working life between meetings in Europe, the Caribbean and North America on issues affecting key Caribbean industries, I have probably met and observed more politicians and diplomats than most. Throughout, I have been fascinated by the different ways that people relate to them and their position, and how they in turn respond. By this I…

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Millennials turning away from casinos

Date: 18th May 2016

Although the definition is quite loose, the expression millennial is usually used to mean those who were born between 1980 and the mid-2000s. In many parts of the western hemisphere this group now proportionately makes up the largest generation, accounting for instance in the US for around one third of the country’s spending power, far exceeding the other much sought…

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The tyranny of the breakfast buffet

Date: 5th May 2016

In North America and Europe there is a growing focus on health, and in particular on significantly reducing consumers’ sugar intake and a more thoughtful approach to diet and exercise. This is because of the spiralling health care costs associated with obesity and the growing global prevalence of diabetes, a condition that unfortunately is particularly common in the Caribbean. It…

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Tourism and disruptive change

Date: 7th April 2016

When the World Travel and Tourism Council’s (WTTC) annual global summit takes place in Dallas on April 6/7, its participants will hear speakers address topics that even a decade ago would have seemed alien to the tourism industry. Although much of the WTTC’s agenda addresses what you might expect – topics related to the environment, the changing market place being…

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Scotland to look again at APD

Date: 24th March 2016

Most visitors from Britain have ceased to think about the significant amount that the UK’s Air Passenger Duty (APD) adds to the price of a ticket from Britain to the Caribbean. As matters stand, for the majority, including the Diaspora, the assumption is that the battle ended when the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer (Minister of Finance) announced in his…

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Cuba’s success is helping ‘brand Caribbean’

Date: 11th March 2016

When Airforce One lands in Havana on March 21 and President Obama and his wife Michelle disembark, the idea of visiting Cuba for most in the US will become the new normal. The pictures will speak louder than words: the President in Cuba’s beautiful if faded capital, at a baseball match, some educational visits. The multiple photo opportunities will cement…

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An end to the tourist dollar?

Date: 25th February 2016

If you read the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post or some of the world’s heavyweight newspapers you may have seen in the past months, articles discussing the abolition of currency. This startling idea, which may sound like a joke, is far from that and could, in a Caribbean context and particularly in a tourism environment, have…

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Drones and tourism in the Caribbean

Date: 28th January 2016

Drones, the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) loved by hobbyists but which have important everyday civilian and military applications, are starting to become an issue in the Caribbean, raising unusual questions for governments and the tourism industry. The issues fall in to three distinct areas: safety, security and regulation; commercial opportunity; and privacy. Read online hobbyist publications like Dronelife.com and it…

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