Director of Tourism, Donovan White says air connectivity remains the key to building multi-destination tourism in the Caribbean. Speaking at the Global Tourism Resilience Conference at the Regional Headquarters of the University of the West Indies on February 18, he noted that, “for multi-destination tourism to work, there has to be airlift across the Caribbean.”
“There are 10 airlines flying point to point in the Caribbean but building out a ‘hub and spoke’ model, with three hubs strategically located in Jamaica in the West, Puerto Rico in the East, and Trinidad down south automatically opens up the region to endless possibilities — including the ability to engage more long-haul travel,” he added.
White was also quick to point out that “while airlift is at the heart of multi-destination development, the challenge is for each destination to differentiate itself in an authentic way.”
The push to multi-destination tourism in the region is being driven by Jamaica’s Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett who sees big wins all round for stakeholders.
“For the traveller, the opportunity to have multiple experiences in one trip is a great value proposition,” said Bartlett. “For our region with 37 million people, the model creates critical mass for key players like the airlines … which means more tourism dollars.”
But getting the model right will require political will and intense cooperation across the region, with roles for governments and the private sector he said.
“Governments will need to harmonise border protection policies and rationalise protocols, while private firms’ price and package,” Bartlett explained, saying, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”
The minister was support by Caribbean Hotel and Tourist Association president Nicola Madden-Greig who sees multi-destination tourism as a path to integrated development, as the industry builds resilience through backward linkages and support services.