You are here
Crime, airlift challenges for Caribbean tourism
Tourism, a mainstay for the majority of Caribbean economies for their foreign exchange and jobs, continues to be hit by major challenges, prompting the industry to issue an urgent call on governments to convene a summit by June to tackle key issues and ensure its long-term sustainable growth.
In a resolution approved last month, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s (CHTA) Board of Directors called for a meeting with Caribbean leaders to consider all major aspect of tourism including airlift, travel facilitation, marketing, visitor security, human resource development, the environment and new ways to encourage GDP growth through a common approach to the problems facing the industry.
“Such a summit would enable the Caribbean, as the most tourism dependent region in the world, to address global competition and return to the levels of success last seen in 2006,” the CHTA said in a press release. Perry Christie, Prime minister of the Bahamas at the opening of the CHTA’s recent Marketplace event at Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island said violence, robbery and theft were menacing the tourism industry.
“Hear me clearly when I say that there is absolutely nothing that represents a bigger threat to the future viability of our tourism based economy than the scourge of crime. This is a problem that we underestimate at our peril. It is a major problem for all of us,” he said. “The problem is not only crimes against tourists because that fortunately is still statistically quite small but rather the stigmatisation of whole nations or whole tourism destinations as crime ridden enclaves.”
He lamented that the combination of travel advisories against certain destinations coupled with media publicity in the major markets discouraging tourism travel to certain destinations is a trend that will continue, and will accelerate and widen unless the Caribbean manages to drastically curb criminal activity.
Urging that action calls for an extremely delicate balancing act, Christie said the region must continue to aggressively market its destinations while ensuring that more effective policing measures are put in place and sustained to ensure that the reality of the vacation experience lives up to the marketing hype about safety and security. Another issue he identified as requiring paramount importance and highest priority is air transportation services.
Despite the vast financial resources which have been invested by governments and the private sector, one of the most pressing challenges the Caribbean continues to face is costly and inadequate transportation by national, regional and international airlines. “Although the Caribbean markets itself as a region, the reality is that it happens to be the one region where internal or regional air and sea transportation is severely limited by the challenges in travelling from the USA or Latin America to countries in the region.
“This hampers all forms of intra Caribbean trade, as well as tourism and remains a major hurdle to our growth and development as a region. “This too must be effectively tackled and not simply be an annual topic of discussion if we are seriously committed to growing the Caribbean Tourism and economy as a whole,” Christie told industry leaders.
2012 has been described by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) as both an exciting and a challenging year for the tourism industry. “Visitor arrivals to the region continued to rise, fuelled by improvements in the US and Canadian markets.
“Yet, we continued to face challenges in Europe, particularly the UK market from which the numbers have been falling. Visitor spending has also been sluggish,” said Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, Hugh Riley in a performance review of the sector last year.
CTO’s figures indicate a five per cent rise in arrivals overall with performance in the US, the region’s main source market, improving with arrival numbers up by 5.3 per cent. The Canadian market has also continued to grow, with total arrivals matching the US at 5.3 per cent. A decline of six per cent in the UK market was partly blamed on the Summer Olympics and the Air Passenger Duty (APD), referred to as a green tax which is determined by distance from London to a traveller’s destination.
The tax, described as “unfair and discriminatory” by the CTO is due to rise further in April. A family of four visiting the Caribbean and flying in economy will be expected to fork out £332 for APD—and double that amount for a few extra inches of leg room if they fly in any class above economy, according to Riley.
“On the contrary, that same family would pay less APD to fly to US destinations that are far further away from London than any Caribbean country. This is an issue the CTO and its member countries and partners will continue to fight,” he said. The CTO chief said despite the many challenges which the Caribbean faced, it got through 2012 with “our chins up and our resolve unfazed.”
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.