Tourism’s recovery holds key to future Caribbean growth

The Business of Tourism David Jessop The challenge that will soon face almost every Caribbean country will be the recovery of tourism, without which future economic growth will be all but impossible. The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered the industry globally, made hundreds of thousands of workers unemployed, pushed many hotels, airlines and cruise companies into […]

Future proofing Caribbean tourism

The statistics vary, but reliable Caribbean and international entities suggest that the region’s tourism sector is now delivering on average directly and indirectly about 40.6% of the Caribbean’s GDP, although in Aruba, Antigua, Barbados, The Bahamas, the OECS states and most overseas territories tourism the figure is much higher. Detailed country by country analysis and […]

Who should take responsibility for visitor safety and security?

The opportunity to relax in an idyllic environment is for most what makes a Caribbean vacation so special. Understanding this, is why the region has been able to grow its tourism product so successfully and cater for almost every type of visitor, whether seeking sun and sea or a cultural experience. To underpin this the […]

Time to ask difficult questions about the value of cruise tourism

Cruise tourism has become a big business, with the Caribbean now accounting for more than 35% of all such vacations globally. This year more ships will sail in or through Caribbean waters than in any other part of the world, with many of the hundreds of new vessels under construction destined to do the same. […]

Tourism needs a much closer relationship with agriculture

When in the early 1990s it became apparent that Europe’s preferential regimes for Caribbean bananas and sugar were coming to an end, an impassioned debate began about a transition to other forms of economic activity. For the most part the focus was on alternative crops, import substitution, manufacturing, and financial services. Little was said at […]

Sargassum a continuing challenge for tourism

There are indications that the Caribbean may again see this year unusually large amounts of Sargassum seaweed washed up on its shores. In recent days, large quantities have begun to arrive on Mexico’s south eastern Caribbean coast, with forecasters suggesting that as the year goes on large quantities may also begin to arrive across the […]

More Caribbean professionals required in tourism management

Try to discover the number of Caribbean citizens working in higher management roles in hospitality in the region or discover how many among them are women, and you will likely be frustrated. It is possible that someone, somewhere has managed to discover the numbers, or research why so few Caribbean people rise to the highest […]

A manifesto for Caribbean tourism

Beyond politics I am not sure the last time I read a Caribbean manifesto. Today the widely held view is that there is no longer a place for detailed well-argued declaration that sets out the intentions or requirements of the socially marginalised or an industry. The sense is that social media has occupied the space […]

Guests expect sophisticated and free connectivity

Some years ago, I stayed in a globally branded hotel on Jamaica’s north coast. It claimed to have free Wi-Fi in every room and in its public areas. While this may have been true, the boast said nothing about the bandwidth or the property’s ability to deal with the level of demand at peak occupancy. […]

Some important messages from 2018

Speaking last June in New York, Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, could not have been clearer. Tourism, he said, as presently structured in the Caribbean, needs to change if it is to deliver greater economic value, increase growth and better support those who work in the industry. It was without question the most significant message […]

Jamaica set to emerge as regional centre for new thinking about tourism

Jamaica is rapidly emerging as the leading regional centre for new thinking about tourism. In the last few weeks it has become clear that its proposed Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre now has enough international and domestic support to enable it to develop a prospectus to take to international donors. This is welcome […]

Artificial intelligence and tourism: opportunities and risks

Until very recently the suggestion that artificial intelligence (AI) could be applied to tourism was likely to be seen by most in the industry as something close to science fiction. However, the extraordinary technological advances that have taken place over the last decade mean that very soon it will become a pervasive commercial tool with […]

Caribbean tourism – the natural environment for electric vehicles

It may sound like science fiction, but the day of the electric powered plane is coming, and sooner than one might expect. Although commercial electric powered flight is still a decade away, the basic power source, the lithium ion battery, can already enable a modified light aircraft to fly up to about 250 miles. Aviation […]

Valuing workers guarantees tourism’s long-term future

A few weeks ago, this column made the point that the time has come for tourism in the Caribbean to be managed in such a way that it is less about numbers and more about delivering lasting nation-wide social and economic growth. It suggested, in part, that to achieve sustainability the industry needs to pay […]

When tourism taxes become excessive

As the reach and range of taxation has expanded, hoteliers in particular have become uneasy about the impact that increasing levels of taxation may have on their competitiveness and that of the country they are located in. Most accept that government’s ability to raise revenue is important, not just to ensure that tourism infrastructure, destination […]

Bringing inter-island travel into the twenty first century

As a young journalist I had the good fortune to travel the region. Then the experience was seamless, easy, relatively low cost and efficient. Now, multiple decades on, Governments and security requirements have made it less than pleasant, and particularly mind numbing, expensive and illogical if it involves multiple transits through OECS nations. Maddeningly, travelling […]

New architecture for tourism required

Speaking recently in New York, Jamaica’s Tourism Minister, Edmund Bartlett, could not have been clearer. Tourism, he said, as presently structured in the Caribbean needs to change if it is to deliver greater economic value, increase growth and better support for those who work in the industry. Addressing a Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) Council of […]

Guests, their data and European law

Over the last few weeks almost every European citizen who has ever used the internet to buy goods and services, or who has ever provided their personal details when seeking information from a website, has been bombarded with requests to allow the supplier concerned to retain and use their data in an agreed manner. Companies […]

Transiting security without losing your laptop

If you are reading this the probability is that you, like me, travel frequently and suffer the passing indignity and delays caused by airport security. Put in place principally to protect us against those who mean us harm, it involves a process, whether in the North America, the Caribbean, Europe or elsewhere that at times […]

Developing new markets requires improved language skills

One of the most impressive aspects of any visit to Portugal’s capital, Lisbon, is the language skills of those who work in the hospitality sector. Having just spent a few days there mixing work with pleasure and speaking no Portuguese at all, I was amazed how everyone from the Ukrainian taxi driver, to the staff […]

The tourism sector should embrace the Caribbean’s history

When I visit a country I always try to find an art gallery, museum, or historic building that in some way represents a nation’s culture or its past. In this way not only is it possible to understand more about where I am and the origins and influences that have made a nation’s people, but […]

Ultra-long-haul travel has arrived

Over the years I have travelled to and from Europe on multiple airlines and in every class. I have had the good fortune – once –  to have flown to London on Concorde, and the misfortune to be packed, sardine-like, in the back row of a low-cost transatlantic carrier that no longer exists. Most flights […]

Time to promote tourism to diaspora achievers

Much of the recent emphasis by the Jamaican government and others in relation to the Caribbean’s sizeable diaspora in North America and Europe, has been on finding ways to encourage an interest in national development projects. The idea has been that the region’s community overseas might invest in productive enterprises rather than, as is now […]

Movie making is good for tourism

Although you may have never have read J R Tolkein, you are probably one of the tens of millions of people around the world who have seen at least one of the three Lord of the Rings movies. If you are, you will almost certainly remember the stunning scenery that provided the backdrop. All were […]

Encouraging the multi-generational vacation

The Caribbean tourism industry has recently become fascinated by what more it can do to attract and sustain the high value millennial market; the category of visitor that is defined by a desire to travel to find the authentic and to have new experiences. However, having lunch recently with two somewhat older former colleagues, and […]

Is multi-destination tourism about to become a reality?

Traditionally, stay-over tourism has been based on a single-destination model. For most of the Caribbean this will likely remain the principal approach for the foreseeable future, albeit with a new emphasis on diversification away from the beach and improving the visitor experience. There are, however, signs that a product which has been talked about for […]

Promoting ‘travel that aint ordinary’

One of the less written about aspects of last year’s conference on sustainable tourism organised by the United Nation’s World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Jamaican Government, were the sometimes inspiring mini-presentations made in sessions away from the main conference. Although the event at the Montego Bay Conference Centre was intended to develop an agenda […]

Learning lessons for tourism from 2017

No one involved in Caribbean tourism will easily forget 2017. It was the year in which Hurricanes Irma and Maria demonstrated not only climate change’s ability to negatively affect much of the Caribbean economy, but also made clear that tourism and its sustainability have become central to the region’s future. Arriving in quick succession, the […]

Transforming the Caribbean tourism model

A little over two weeks ago in Montego Bay an international tourism conference formally endorsed a new and potentially challenging way of seeing the future of tourism. The thinking, which emerged at a well-attended United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) event, organised with the support of the Jamaican government and its international development partners, envisages […]

Making the face fit – biometrics and airport

Imagine this. You arrive at the airport for your flight. At an airport kiosk, or more likely earlier from home, using your pc or laptop, you digitally provide your biometric identity in a way that enables everyone concerned to identify you as the passenger. At the airport this enables you to use the self-check-in kiosk, […]

Time to embrace tourism’s wider possibilities

A week ago, the Mayor of Venice announced that the city will stop all cruise ships above 55,000 tons from entering its ancient central waterway, the Giudecca Canal. Instead they will have to dock in the industrial port of Marghera, which is to the northwest of city’s medieval centre. The announcement, which was supported by […]

The solo traveller and the Caribbean

One of the odder experiences in my past was when, while sitting on a beach in Barbados, a young American visitor appeared from nowhere and asked if I was vacationing on my own. As it happened, I was quietly spending a Sunday alone before a week of political interviews. His surprising response was to beckon […]

Winners and losers in changing US Cuba travel policy

Over the last two and a half years the number of US visitors to Cuba has surged in response to changing US policy. According to Cuban statistics, while just 37,459 US citizens visited in 2014, some 285,000 did so in 2016. This dramatic increase followed changes introduced by President Obama, who in 2015 allowed US […]

Cyber security and the hospitality sector

Few of us when booking a flight, hotel, or a rental car think twice about the process, or the absence of interaction with another human being. Over the last decade, we have largely come to trust the web sites we visit to book our travel, and their ability to hold securely the information we have […]

Learning lessons from Irma

From early on September 6, to late on September 10, Hurricane Irma raged at speeds of up to 185 mph across the Caribbean. It caused at least 43 deaths, extensive damage to homes, livelihoods, and infrastructure, and seriously set back the Caribbean tourist economy, especially in some of the worst hit islands. Barbuda, the British […]

When travel ceases to be an experience

In an age when most in the industry are seeking higher yield millennials and baby-boomers by selling authenticity, it is perhaps puzzling that another rapidly growing industry segment is now wants to deliver just the opposite. Type the words private islands into a search engine and it is immediately evident that this element of the […]

Connectivity is in the air

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 […]

Tourism is a force for good

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 […]

Tourism, Kingston and a Caribbean renaissance

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 […]

Visitor arrival numbers are not the whole story

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 […]

CHTA’s high profile on regional issues is welcome

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 […]

Travel, freedom and new regulations

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 […]

Drones, vacations and Caribbean regulations

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 […]

Overbooking and the airlines

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 […]

Responding to the rise and rise of Cuba’s tourism

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 […]

Tourism seeks a central development role

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. […]

What advice should travellers be given?

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 […]

Perception, image, and feeling welcome, matter

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 […]

Tourism, an industry of value to the whole region

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 […]

The importance of sustainability

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 […]

When visitor numbers become too great

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 […]

Tracking the visitor’s every step

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’, […]

A single word says it all

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. […]

China prepared to help with tourism development

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 […]

The disruptive becomes the new normal

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 […]

Statistics are helpful but require closer analysis

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 […]

Brand Trump and the tourism industry

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. […]

Dollar denominated tourism and sterling

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 […]

Beaches and public access

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 connect or not to connect

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 […]

A time to sell Caribbean tourism in the UK

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. […]

Star ratings and Caribbean hotels

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 […]

Is the Chinese tourism market illusory?

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 […]

Travel advisories and human nature

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 […]

Preparing the Caribbean tourism industry for Brexit

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 […]

Cruise ships and millennials

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 […]

The danger of success

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 […]

A stronger regional position on tourism required

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 […]

Millennials turning away from casinos

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 […]

The tyranny of the breakfast buffet

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 […]

Tourism and disruptive change

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, […]

Scotland to look again at APD

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 […]

Cuba’s success is helping ‘brand Caribbean’

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 […]

An end to the tourist dollar?

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 […]

Drones and tourism in the Caribbean

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 […]

A bright year ahead for tourism

Will 2016 be the year when Caribbean tourism takes its place as the industry best suited to turn around region’s economic fortunes? All the indications are that this year will be an outstanding one for the industry, seeing it building on the strong growth it recorded in 2014. Although the 2015 year-end figures are unlikely […]

A year of recovery and new challenges

Looking back, 2015 will probably be seen as the year in which the tourism industry in the Caribbean experienced a much awaited full recovery from the slow growth it has suffered, ever since the 2008 global recession. Although the year end arrivals figures, and the more important measures of yield and occupancy, are unlikely to […]

Time to work together: tourism and rum

Not that long ago Prensa Latina reported that the Director General of Havana Club International had said that its best selling Cuban rum, Havana Club, and the culture of the country were coincident. Quoting Jérome Cottin-Bizonne, the Frenchman who runs the joint venture between Cuba Ron and the French spirits conglomerate Pernod Ricard, the Cuban […]

The tyranny of the customer survey

Having just spent the last two weeks travelling in the US and the Caribbean I am now being plagued by every airline, hotel and booking engine that I used, to rate my experience. Their objective is of course to use my response for analysis or marketing, for the most part to other consumers. What is […]

The nineteen hour direct flight has arrived

The longest time I have ever spent on a plane in the air is just under fourteen hours. It was not intended, but the flight I was on between London and Dallas Fort Worth experienced a severe in-flight weather delay while an extensive storm crossed the Dallas region causing us to fly a holding pattern […]

Time to wake up to disruptive technology

It is far from clear how much notice the Caribbean tourism industry is taking of the appearance in many developed and some developing nations of ‘disruptive technology’ and ‘disruptive innovation’. By this what is meant is new technology or innovation that helps create a new market or value network by disrupting existing networks in ways that the market […]

Making regional air travel easier

A while ago I took a flight from the British Virgin Islands to Trinidad on LIAT, the Eastern Caribbean inter-regional carrier.  What was remarkable — apart from the time involved —was that having gone through one security check at Tortola’s Terrance B Lettsome International Airport and then another random check, some of my fellow travellers […]

Cruise ship tourism booming

As this is being written, the US Treasury and its Department of Commerce have announced that from September 21 on, US cruise ships carrying ‘authorised travellers between the United States and Cuba only’ and ‘without stops in third countries,’ can provide services under a general license. The new regulations will also allow ‘the temporary sojourn’ of […]

The challenge of finding new markets

The challenge now facing almost every Caribbean tourism destination is how to diversify their source of visitors as international and inter-regional competition becomes more intense; not least because later this year US citizens may on an individual basis be freer to travel to Cuba. Finding new sources of visitor supply is, however, not as easy […]

Freer US travel to Cuba poses a challenge

According to the North American trade publication, Travel Weekly, US tourism to Cuba is now growing at such pace that the country is experiencing a shortage of both highly trained Cuban professional guides and non-Cuban certified tour directors to accompany the tours that US Treasury regulations require almost all US visitors to take. It is […]

The electric car and the Caribbean

Could the Caribbean become a location where innovative new technologies might be trialled or developed in ways that offer the region and the tourism industry comparative advantage? One interesting possibility of a technology that is new, developing rapidly, and is of particular relevance to small islands and discrete locations, is the all-electric vehicle. Known as […]

Seaweed and tourism

  From the Dominican Republic to Barbados, countries across the Caribbean are struggling to deal with the unusually large amounts of Sargassum seaweed that are being washed up on many beaches. Although the strong-smelling rotting seaweed arrives most years in many countries, the volume this year – reportedly up to three to four feet high […]

Selling dreams and a moral dilemma

  The opportunity to visit another country and to relax in a controlled idyllic environment is what, for most, makes a vacation so special. Understanding this is why the Caribbean has been able to grow its product so successfully over the years from one that was once only available to the very rich, so that […]

Multi-destination tourism and integration

A little over two weeks ago I attended a conference in the English countryside for a small number of invited participants from the Caribbean, the UK and North America. The discussions were wide-ranging in scope, but had as a focus where the region might be fifteen years from now and where a younger generation of […]

We all have a duty of care

A vacation is about happiness and fulfilling dreams. For this reason tour operators, hotels, destinations, airlines and service providers cultivate a positive image, a high reputation and encourage a feeling that they care. It means that when something goes wrong it requires sensitive handling and an understanding that holidays are about more than a normal […]

The cruise lines, Cuba and competition

One day in the not too distant future it is likely that US-registered cruise ships will begin to sail into Cuban ports. That day has not yet arrived as US regulations expressly prohibit US visitors and most US registered vessels travelling to Cuba for tourism purposes, but already non-US cruise companies are opening up what […]

Developing vernacular tourism

In a previous column I suggested that as Caribbean tourism continues to recover from the lows it experienced following the global economic crisis of 2007/8, the industry ought to consider taking a much longer term view of how to reorient and develop the regional tourism offering so as to better reflect changing international demand for […]

Sustaining renewed tourism growth

After years idling in the doldrums, visitor arrivals to some parts of the region are increasing rapidly, travellers are spending more, and the yield for hoteliers is increasing. Moreover, as demand soars in Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and some smaller Caribbean destinations like Aruba, it is getting much harder for visitors to find a […]

Is it time to raise again the issue of APD?

Remember Air Passenger Duty (APD), the ticket tax that the United Kingdom continues to levy on all passengers leaving its shores by air? One year ago the Caribbean won a famous, if partial victory. After years of campaigning, successfully mobilising its Diaspora, working closely with tour operators and airlines, and introducing the issue into almost […]

When the experience goes too far

At almost every industry seminar, experts from marketing and social media companies make clear that travellers, especially in valuable higher spending demographic categories, are seeking the authentic and an experience when they travel. However, a relatively new allied global development in tourism is starting to attract criticism and raising questions about whether visitors should be […]

Time to look beyond the arrivals figures

Visitor arrivals to the Caribbean are again increasing. This is good news, but not the whole story. As has now been widely reported, preliminary figures collated by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) in their recent state of the industry report showed that a total of 26.3m visitors chose the Caribbean for a land based vacation […]

Free WiFi: an essential offering

It is hard to imagine a more extraordinary example of a major hotel chain getting it wrong, but that is what Marriott International managed to achieve last month when, to almost universal condemnation from customers and the media alike, it continued to argue that it was right to block the free provision of some WiFi […]

US-Cuba tourism change will be gradual

The announcement by President Obama and President Castro that Cuba and the US are moving to normalise relations has resulted in all of sorts of commentary across the Caribbean about what this may mean for the region’s tourism sector. For the most part the commentary is ill informed, fails to understand the complexity of what […]

The high cost of flying

There is good news and bad about the seemingly ever-escalating cost of air travel to and from the Caribbean. Those with a reason to be pleased will be families with children travelling between the UK and the region. This is because in his autumn statement on December 3, George Osborne, Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer […]

Tourism must wake up to cyber crime

Earlier this year, one of my colleagues booked a villa holiday in a coastal resort in Europe. She was late in doing so and was surprised when just what she was looking for appeared online and was available. It was on the website of what she thought belonged to a reputable company; one known across […]