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.

Connectivity is in the air

Date: 21st August 2017

It may seem perverse, but I enjoy the eight or more hours it takes to cross the Atlantic. Having done this almost all my working life, I look forward to the space, free from demands on my time, the absence of emails, and all of the daily issues that intrude. This is because long haul air travel offers something special:…

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Tourism is a force for good

Date: 11th August 2017

Tourism is a globally important industry playing an essential economic role in almost every nation in the world. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), in 2016 travel and tourism generated US$7.2 trillion or 9.8% of global GDP, and employs at least 284m people, a figure equivalent to 1.1% of all work in the global economy. In the…

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Tourism, Kingston and a Caribbean renaissance

Date: 28th July 2017

Most Caribbean cities have seen better days. Many harbour a mix of faded and ill-maintained colonial architecture, a plethora of modern concrete blocks, tired government buildings, and a hinterland of low-cost and informal housing. However, there are signs that some governments, the private sector, and those in academia are coming to recognise that with the right stimulus, mix of external…

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Visitor arrival numbers are not the whole story

Date: 13th July 2017

To understand the Caribbean tourism economy requires time, and a willingness to explore what lies behind the commentaries and headline statistics. Despite this, and the fact that tourism is now the region’s most significant industry, there is an alarming absence of publicly available, viable, in-depth information on what is happening in specific markets, or to the industry in the region…

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CHTA’s high profile on regional issues is welcome

Date: 30th June 2017

Traditionally, private sector organisations in the Caribbean have kept a low profile and not adopted strong public positions, especially where criticism of governments is involved. This is partly because many such organisations are weak and underfunded. However even the larger, genuinely representative private sector bodies prefer low-key and usually private conversations. They hope that by not antagonising governments they can…

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Travel, freedom and new regulations

Date: 16th June 2017

For me, hours spent in the air provide an opportunity to think, write, and read, free from interruption. For that reason, I am among those disturbed by the possibility that governments may be moving towards a wider ban on passengers taking laptops and other larger electronic items, into the cabin. In March, US and UK authorities introduced new regulations, requiring…

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Drones, vacations and Caribbean regulations

Date: 1st June 2017

Some time ago, I wrote a column about flying drones in the Caribbean – the unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) loved by hobbyists – but which also have important everyday commercial applications. I did so not because I have a drone, but because I am fascinated by all technological developments and their effect on society; and because in a Caribbean context,…

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Overbooking and the airlines

Date: 19th May 2017

When I go to the theatre, I buy a ticket which has seat number on it. When I am there, the seat is mine for the duration of the performance. I have paid for it, and if I fail to show up, the seat remains empty and the theatre keeps my money. I know of no theatre which would sell…

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Responding to the rise and rise of Cuba’s tourism

Date: 4th May 2017

When the former US President, Barack Obama, announced that he was easing travel restrictions on US citizens wishing to visit Cuba, a frisson ran through the industry in the rest of the Caribbean. Seminars and conferences were hastily convened, papers produced, and Caribbean governments sought to understand the extent to which Cuba’s opening to the US market might divert visitors….

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Tourism seeks a central development role

Date: 21st April 2017

One of the most common complaints about tourism is that it does not spread the wealth it creates into rural and urban communities. This is particularly so in larger Caribbean nations like Jamaica, where many thousands are engaged in agriculture; opportunity and education are limited; and when urban drift has resulted in poverty and criminality. The criticism is that despite…

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What advice should travellers be given?

Date: 6th April 2017

In February, a British coroner’s court had to rule in a case that raised important matters of principle about the responsibility of tour operators, hotels and governments. In part, at issue were the warnings given to visitors, and the level of responsibility that even the most junior sales staff have in this regard. Although the background to the case is…

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Perception, image, and feeling welcome, matter

Date: 23rd March 2017

Perception of a destination, the hard to define sense of feeling welcome, and image, are three of the critical components that help a visitor to decide first on whether a destination is attractive enough to explore further, and then make a booking. For this reason, many in the United States travel industry are becoming deeply concerned about the changes taking…

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Tourism, an industry of value to the whole region

Date: 9th March 2017

As odd as it may seem, in the past, tourism has not often been discussed in depth at the highest political levels of CARICOM; leaving the strong impression that the industry’s economic centrality was either unwelcome or not understood. However, last month, when CARICOM Heads of Government met in Guyana, they made clear in their communiqué for the first time…

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The importance of sustainability

Date: 22nd February 2017

For most visitors, a central part of a vacation is the pleasure of eating out at hotels and restaurants; having alternative choices at each meal, being able to taste local cuisine, and having the experience of doing so in a beautiful and different environment. Increasingly however, something new is creeping into visitor perception. It is the related issues of sustainability…

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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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