Blinders off... region chided for being too slow
“…as a region we are great debators…we’re big on lyrics…but slow on implementation.”
That was the cry of Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) Beverly Nicholson-Doty as she addressed the opening ceremony of the 2013 State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) at the Madiana Convention Centre in Fort de France, Martinique.
“One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean cannot be just a feel good slogan or a tagline that we embrace when we meet a few times a year but it must be the strategic marketing reality of our region if we are to survive the aggressive marketing efforts of major destinations around the world,” the CTO chairman said.
She called on regional tourism officials to “take the blinders off” to “wake up to today’s realities” and “to seize the moment” noting that tourism remains our primary economic earner in the Caribbean.
The CTO chairman noted that the global market is growing so rapidly that “if we fall behind it is going to be so much more difficult and much more expensive, to catch up.”
For Daniel Levine, Global Trends expert, such an experience is classified by transparency, local and artisan involvement, sustainability, social involvement and a sense of giving back to the target destination. ??Presenting on the topic, “Delivering more perfect visitor experiences – How to Turn Authenticity into Greater Visitor Numbers”, Levine got the discussions started at the Caribbean Tourism Organisation State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC 2013) at the Madiana Convention Centre in Martinique.
The Executive Director of the Avant Guide Institute noted that authenticity, though not always clearly defined, was becoming a major social trend globally.
With constant “connectivity”, customers are now talking more with each other about services and products. It is no longer the provider's ability to tell customers what they can offer. The question they are now faced with is “how do we make this more transparent environment work to our advantage ?”
Providing examples of technologies which allowed customers to make more informed decisions about their purchases, Levine suggested that persons were seeking products and services which were aligned to their own social values. They want real, they want unique, they want to interact with people and with everyday aspects of community life.
Concerns surrounding the impact of consolidation in the US airline industry on air capacity to the Caribbean, were eased after tourism officials were reassured of the benefits the process could bring. ??Speaking during the second session of the Caribbean Tourism Organization's State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC 2013) Thursday morning, Aviation specialists suggested that mergers, such as that proposed between American Airlines and US Airways, were unlikely to result in any reduction of airlift into the region.
According to Michael Lum of Sixel Consulting, interest in the Caribbean continues to grow, with routes from the US up by 30 per cent since 2003. This jump he says, can be contributed significantly to the entrance of several low-cost carriers.
While the USA has a hold on 61 per cent of air capacity to the region, Canada has performed outstandingly well, having grown nearly 500 per cent since 2003. It currently account for 10 per cent of airlift capacity, behind Europe at 17 per cent and Central and South America at 12 per cent collectively.
It cannot smile but it speaks all kinds of languages. It does not sleep neither does it go on strike. And if you did not guess what it is, there’s probably an App to help you figure it out. Tourism industry officials attending the 2013 State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) in Martinique have been reminded that the right App at the right time and the right place can do wonders for promoting and marketing their destinations.
Addressing the topic: “There’s an App for That! Using Technology to Improve Your Bottom Line” General Manager of Destinations, Travelzoo Jim Brody said in this age of “digital maturity” destinations need to “niche up,” to “be socially diligent,” and to know that digital was made for them.
“Tell your stories, inspire people and be compelling; be authentic and beware if you are not; and don’t be afraid to ask questions,” he urged.
Another panellist, TRAVELSAT Competitive Index (TCI) CEO Olivier Henry-Biabaud, reminded the audience that Apps can help improve hospitality and access to authenticity.
But he cautioned, “before acting on authenticity and digital make sure about the basics; do not use Apps for hiding the truth.”
And with projections showing that 1 billion android devices will be sold in 2013, Owner and Creative Director of Opusseven Inc. Dwayne Bishop said there are “great possibilities for destinations” to capitalize on millions of ‘Appy Fingers.’
The Youth Congress closed off this 3rd CTO SOTIC with the Junior Ministers of Tourism Debate around two themes : Multigenerational Travel & Caribbean Agritourism.
Each Jr Minister had limited time to express him or herself on their desired topic.
Adrianna Sylvestre Jr Minister of Tourism of Saint-Martin gave a stunning intervention on Caribbean Agritourism.
The judges noted the passion that was felt as all 14 Jr Ministers spoke about their islands, and things they would like to see come to past.
The mystery topic « Share the one thing you would like to achieve or experience as Junior Minister/Commissioner of Tourism and state why achieving or experiencing this would be important to you. » is what determined who would walk away with the Jr Minister of Tourism of the Caribbean title.
During delibaration former Jr Minister of Tourism of the Caribbean O’brian Lewis spoke about his past year expériences and encourage all young persons present to pursue Tourism studies.
Neila Jones of Nevis is the new Jr Minister of Tourism of the Caribbean followed by Annick Bedford of St Kitts and Renita Shivnauth of St Lucia. Adrianna Sylvestre placed fourth.