Tuesday, October 22, 2013

State of the Industry in the Caribbean - CTO 2013

State of the Industry 

Marketing the Authentic Caribbean Vacation 

Melanie Reffes

The industry’s annual conference on tourism was held this year on the French island of Martinique. Organized by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) in collaboration with the Martinique Tourism Authority, ‘State of the Industry’ (SOTIC) was the star attraction at the Madiana Convention Center in Schoelcher, a suburb of Fort de France. 
View of Fort de France from the ferry ( credit: M. Reffes ) 
Arpege Choir from the St. Joseph’s Cluny Convent singing the national anthem at the opening ceremony (credit: M. Reffes )
Under the banner Perfecting the Experience, Delivering Authenticity, government officials, tourism ministers, directors and commissioners , academics and experts tackled topics that addressed improving the vacation experience for visitors to the region. “It is the quality of the experience that will determine if our guests develop such an emotional attachment that they become influencers and repeat visitors, “ said Hugh Riley, secretary general, CTO, “the more the Caribbean pays attention to visitor experience, the more it will enhance its competitive position.”
Karine Roy-Camille, tourism commissioner, Martinique and Hugh Riley, secretary general, CTO ( credit: CTO )
With a resounding call to order, CTO chairman, Beverly Nicholson-Doty opened the conference with strong words described as both ‘wisdom and a ‘warning’,  "the slogan 'One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean' cannot be just a feel good tagline that we embrace when we meet a few times a year , 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. “   Adding actions speak louder than words, she told the audience ‘as a region we are great debaters and we’re big on lyrics but we’re slow on implementation.”  
Beverly Nicholson-Doty, Chairman, CTO ( credit: CTO )  
 Describing Brand USA as a strategy that markets the entire country as one tourist destination, Nicholson-Doty said that the concept behind the brand was initiated in the Caribbean more than a decade ago. “Brand USA has the data that shows travel increased to the US since the program’s implementation and when we’ve implemented a cohesive marketing program, our visitor arrivals also have increased. "

Emphasizing that marketing the Caribbean as one region makes fiscal sense, USVI Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. added this strategy offers a competitive advantage for all  Caribbean countries, “we may be perceived as competitors going after the same guest, but the fact is that we are 'economic co-conspirators' trying to attract visitors to the region and then keeping them as long as possible.  “ 
USVI Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr.and CTO chairman, Beverly Nicholson-Doty (credit: CTO )

USVI Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr. ( credit: CTO) 

Do the Math
According to figures released at the conference, the number of travelers visiting the Caribbean from January through July totalled 15.6 million, with tourism officials adding there has been no “incremental difference” compared to the same period last year. "The U.S. market had a marginal growth of 0.8%, which totaled 7.8 million visitors and represented a market share of 50.4%, up from 49.6% in 2012," said Beverly Nicholson-Doty, chairman, CTO. 

 Of the twenty-six countries reporting arrivals, Anguilla, Aruba, Belize, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Guyana, Haiti, Montserrat, St. Kitts-Nevis and Suriname were the fastest growing.  The Dominican Republic, with 3.31 million arrivals was the top performer in overnight arrivals followed by Cuba (1.99 million), Jamaica (1.26 million), Puerto Rico (731,959) and the Bahamas (730,988).   
Anguilla Little Bay ( credit: ATA ) 
Willemstad, Curacao (  credit: M. Reffes ) 
13.4 million visitors arrived via cruise ships to  twenty-two countries between January and August . The Bahamas ( 2.78 million ) led the pack of arrivals followed by Cozumel, Mexico (1.84 million), U.S. Virgin Islands (1.32 million), St. Maarten (1.01 million) and the Cayman Islands (859,850).
Bright blooms in The Bahamas ( credit: Bahamas Tourism ) 

The Sound Bites  

“Martinique is making strides in its quest to develop its tourism product and we are aiming to welcome one million visitors by 2020. The island will invest 100 million dollars in tourism development over the next three years.” Karine Roy-Camille, tourism commissioner, Martinique.
Karine Roy-Camille, tourism commissioner, Martinique ( credit: CTO ) 
 “It is so much easier today and getting easier every day to share one’s impression of a destination, hotel or other travel experiences via social media. These ubiquitous digital impressions are so powerful that they have been described as a permanently archived word of mouth. “Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, former secretary general, CTO.
Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, former secretary general, CTO and consultant, CTDC
(credit: CTO) 
‘Travelers want real, they want unique, they want to interact with people and with everyday aspects of community life. “Daniel Levine, executive director, Avant Guide Institute, New York.
Daniel Levine, executive director, Avant Guide Institute, New York. (credit: CTO ) 

"Progress is incremental, but it is happening.” Hugh Riley, secretary general, CTO, referring to the Aviation Task Force which will meet in November with IATA and the Latin American and Caribbean Air Transport Association.

“  I could stand here and give lip service about tourism and have everyone leave this beautiful venue feeling warm and cozy but  the fact is, it is sink or swim for the Caribbean and the choice is in our hands.” Beverly Nicholson-Doty, chairman, CTO. 
Beverly Nicholson-Doty, chairman, CTO. (credit: CTO) 
“Regional carriers can be major contributors to the development of the Caribbean by providing reliable intra-Caribbean service and by bringing in visitors from the rest of the Americas. “ Albert Kluyver, CEO, Curacao-based Insel Air.
Insel Air ( credit: Jeffrey Shafer )
“Our average visitor is far better informed than they were when the tourism industry began to blossom in the 1960s. A limbo dancer walking on crushed glass and fire eating with a steel band tinkling away in the background was all the entertainment that was necessary for a fun filled evening. Today we must be far better than that. With Disney’s launching of the Pirates of the Caribbean over the last few years, visitor interest in pirates has increased remarkably. Our opportunity is to incorporate our region’s involvement with the real pirates of the Caribbean. This includes the sites of their activities, their way of life and their ports of call.”   Dr. Lennox Honychurch, historian, Dominica.

 “Destinations need 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.” Jim Brody, general manager destinations, Travelzoo.
“Government taxes on airline tickets are extremely onerous, there could be more carriers going bankrupt if the situation continues.”  Jaime Lopez-Diaz, CFO, Seaborne Airlines.  
“Between the years 2008-2012 there has been a decline in intra-regional travel within the English-speaking Caribbean. However, the wider Caribbean has seen moderate increases.”  Brian Challenger, chairman, CTO Aviation Task Force.
“I have no words to express how I feel. I’m so overwhelmed and full of excitement.” Neila Jones, 16-year old winner Tourism Youth Congress , student at the Gingerland Secondary School in Nevis.
Neila Jones, 16-year old winner Tourism Youth Congress , student at the Gingerland Secondary School in Nevis. (credit: CTO )  

Getting There 

American Airlines offers direct nonstop service on Saturday from Miami with a Wednesday flight starting November 27 continuing through March 26, 2014. 

Seaborne flies 4 times weekly from San Juan, Air France makes the trip three times a week from Paris and connections via Air Caraibes, LIAT and Air Antilles Express are available from several other islands to Fort de France.

Daily ferries make the trip to Martinique from St. Lucia (20 minutes), Guadeloupe (45 minutes) and Dominica (two hours) . 

Make a Date
SOTIC 2014 will be held next October in St. Thomas, USVI.
Paradise Tram in St. Thomas ( credit: USVI Tourism ) 
 For more information: www.onecaribbean.org.
Meet Martinique 
(credit: M. Reffes ) 

Ti Sable restaurant ( credit: M. Reffes ) 

Slavery Memorial ( credit: Anne Marie Parent )
Shopping in Fort de France ( credit: Stephane C. ) 
Diamond Rock ( credit: M. Reffes ) 

St. Louis Cathedral ( credit: M. Reffes ) 

La Pagerie hotel ( credit: M. Reffes ) 

credit: M. Reffes 

Shopping in Creole Village in Trois Islet ( credit: M. Reffes ) 

Government in Fort de France ( credit: M. Reffes ) 

-          30 -

No comments:

Post a Comment