World Tourism Day 2015

The Caribbean Is One Nation.

Submitted by the Mahogany Coconut Group


Once more we offer comment on a day designated to a particular event. Today, September 27th, is World Tourism Day, under the theme: “One Billion Tourists, One Billion Opportunities”. This day should be of considerable interest to almost all the countries in our region that have pinned their economic hopes on the mighty tourist dollar. We can expect the repetitive messages from the Ministers of Tourism and there will be the usual chat shops that these special days attract.
Ever since the demolition of the agricultural sector, we have looked for a savior and the tourist industry has been the preferred choice of many governments. Unfortunately, tourism earns foreign exchange and then gobbles  it up  to sustain itself. In other words, we do not retain a great proportion of the money earned by the industry. This leads to a constant battle to maintain the employment levels while giving all types of concessions to a visionless tourism management sector.
The Caribbean is not the cheapest destination and in many instances, individual islands have to directly compete against each other for a piece of the pie. Additionally, we often pad our overseas marketing offices with political party hacks who know little or nothing about the industry. This leads  to poor results from the extremely limited budgets we have for the marketing of the industry.
On the home front, the environment is speedily becoming unmanageable after years of neglect and abuse. We also have the rising crime figures that occasionally lead to alerts warning tourists about travelling to the islands and to be on their guard. A major concern now facing the industry is the reemergence of Cuba that will no doubt lead to more intra island competition, in the industry.
While we comment on these difficulties, we have to also state that the industry has survived and its contribution to our economic well being cannot be seriously ignored or understated. In order to gain a bigger slice of the tourist dollar, we must strive to create a direct symbiosis between the agricultural sector and the industry. We must pay closer attention to the marketing of our local cuisine and must move swiftly to protect the environment form further deterioration.

In terms of crime, there is need to eliminate or at least halt the rising crime for our citizens and thereby make living and travelling within each island safer for all residents including those seeking a genuine Caribbean experience. Failure to recognize these factors will result in a decrease in both the numbers visiting our shores and the needed foreign exchange. However we must seek to ensure positive development in our islands for ourselves and the benefits will redound to our visitors as well. 
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