As it gets ready to celebrate World Tourism Day with a look at the future of tourism in the region, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is stressing the importance of industry players working together.
“In observance of the day, the CTO and approximately a dozen regional and international partners are collaborating on a virtual event aimed at highlighting and addressing the challenges we face in forging a sustainable tourism sector and identifying the opportunities to build a more socially inclusive, sustainable and smart sector,” says CTO Secretary General Neil Walters.
COVID-19 sent shock waves throughout the global tourism industry and the Caribbean was no exception. According to the Inter-American Development Bank’s latest Caribbean Quarterly bulletin, in 2020, nine of the 12 Caribbean countries it reviewed suffered double-digit shock to real gross domestic product from the pandemic and drew a correlation between these results and the Tourism Dependency Index.
“These nine countries are in the top 20 most tourism dependent countries globally,” says Walters.
However the sector has shown signs of recovery with some CTO member countries boasting record stayover arrivals in July and August. Others have seen arrival numbers trending in the right direction and even approaching 2019 levels.
“In celebrating our incremental successes, this year’s theme is a reminder that, even as arrival numbers rise and tourism revenue increases, we begin to revise our measures of success to include an analysis of the social and economic benefits of the sector. The new tourism approach must ensure that our local communities participate in the renewed tourism economy. Similarly, additional focus must be placed on vulnerable groups, including women, the youth, the disabled and indigenous and marginalized communities, to ensure that they are meaningfully included in the tourism economy,” urges Walters.
World Tourism Day is September 27 and the theme is Tourism for Inclusive Growth.
“As we look towards the future, sustainable tourism used as a development tool, at the forefront of the region’s economic recovery, can help to strengthen other sectors against the effects of future shocks. Sustainable tourism is already recognised as a contributor directly or indirectly to most of the UN sustainable development goals, including gender equality, decent work and economic growth,” says Walters.
“The CTO has recognised that to achieve these goals, it’s imperative that we forge alliances and partnerships with organisations and institutions that play a meaningful role in contributing to the social and economic development of the region. One such example is our collaboration with the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility (CCPF) which is funding community-based tourism pilot projects using the cluster approach in rural and indigenous areas in three Caribbean countries.”
He added, “By providing opportunities such as these to vulnerable groups, we enhance the capacity of Caribbean people to play a leading role in their own development. We also demonstrate that in addition to being a primary economic revenue earner for the Caribbean, tourism can be inclusive and by extension promote growth in all of our communities.”