Chairman of the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Richard Sealy in a message marking Caribbean Tourism Month in November, said the statistics provided by the CTO’s research department show that arrivals to the Caribbean are up for the first half of this year.
“While this is encouraging, we cannot be satisfied, we must all tell ourselves that we are yet to achieve our goal,” said Sealy, who is also Barbados’ Tourism Minister.
The CTO reported that the region enjoyed a 4.3 per cent increase during the first six months of the 2014, much in line with the world average of 4.7 per cent.
CTO director of research and information technology, Winfield Griffith, said that just under 14 million long-stay tourists visited the Caribbean between January and June, with nearly half this number ( 6.87 million) coming from the United States.
He said compared to the same period last year when 6.61 million American visitors arrived in the Caribbean, the 2014 figure represents a 3.9 per cent rise in arrivals from the US market.
The Month of Tourism will be observed under the theme “One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean’ and Sealy said it provides an opportunity to “engage in activities collectively and individually that involve the people of the Caribbean, to remind every Caribbean national that tourism is critical to the region.
“It’s a period during which we remind the world that every member country has something different to offer, every experience is a unique experience, but that, as the Caribbean, we are a strong, powerful, desirable brand.
“Caribbean Tourism Month gives everyone in the industry an opportunity to open their doors to citizens and to help understand and appreciate tourism, to help them feel that they too are part of the industry, that they are impacted by the industry, that they have a role to play in the growth of the industry,” Sealy added.
He said the month also provides stakeholders with the chance to look inwards “at our approach to tourism, at the quality of our product, at the strategies we employ in managing this vital sector. Indeed, this is an ideal time to look at current world trends and find the opportunities to keep pace with the rest of the world”.
Sealy said that while the trend this year shows an upswing in tourist arrivals, the Caribbean “must aim to out-grow the rest of the world.
“In order to achieve this, in order to remain competitive, in order to realize our vision of positioning the Caribbean as the world’s most desirable, year round, warm weather destination, we must combine the efforts of all stake-holders, public sector and private sector, those who contribute directly and those who do indirectly, tourism workers and the general population.
“Our success will depend on strong relationships within the travel trade, solid public relations approaches, sound bonds with our citizens and strong regulatory and policy support at the national level. For it is by our combined efforts that can ensure that tourism benefits our countries, our communities, our constituencies,” he added.