Chief Secretary Orville London has said that there has to be greater collaboration and meaningful action on the part of decision makers at all levels if the Caribbean tourism sector is to rally successfully, during this challenging and unpredictable period.
Speaking on his return from St Martin where he and the Secretary of Tourism and Transportation, Oswald Williams attended the State of the Industry Conference organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), London noted that the Conference Theme – “How to win in a Competitive Environment” – was most appropriate. The reports, he said, confirm that every island in the Caribbean is faced with declining visitor arrivals, declining revenues, higher prices for airline tickets and increased competition from a varied range of destinations. However, despite the general threat, there is little concerted effort to devise and implement strategies that would make the region more competitive.
London said he was also concerned that even the airlines serving the regional market seemed to be focused primarily on profits and survival, with minimal emphasis on their role in boosting regional and international tourism. He recommended that Caricom governments should meet with the regional airlines, as a matter of urgency, to determine guidelines which could inform and influence their policies and practices.
Tobago’s major challenge, London said, is that the “Europe remains our primary market and the economy of most European markets is floundering.”
In addition, the airline taxes regime imposed by the United Kingdom and likely to be imposed by other European countries would make the Caribbean region even less competitive.
However, he argued that the Caribbean brand which remains unique and highly attractive must be marketed more aggressively and effectively, by both the regional and relevant national bodies.
He said the problems facing the Tobago tourism sector were no different in any of the other islands and he is convinced that the policies and programmes instituted by the local tourism authorities would ensure that tourism in Tobago rebounds in the shortest possible period.