THA tourism secretary: Caribbean must compete as a bloc

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Secretary of Tourism Tashia Burris, centre, talks with stakeholders on the opening day of World Travel Market 2022, at ExCel London, England, Monday. Photo courtesy THA

THA Secretary of Tourism, Culture and Antiquities Tashia Burris said the Caribbean must collaborate to grow the regional tourism industry. Burris was speaking on Monday at the opening day of World Travel Market 2022, in ExCel London, England.

On the Tobago Updates programme, Burris said she has attended Caribbean tourism forums and discussions have been held about more unity among stakeholders. She said some of the Caribbean tourism leaders are at the World Trade Market.

“One of things is selling the Caribbean as one destination. They talk about multi-destination tourism – that is something Tobago can begin to benefit from.”

Burris said Tobago does not have the market spend to rival Jamaica and Barbados. She said Tobago should partner with these tourism destinations and take advantage of their more mature and established brand. She claimed it would be a win-win situation for all involved.

“The Caribbean has to understand, we have to start to compete as a bloc and not necessary as individual islands. because we’re competing against destinations in the pacific, competing against destinations in Asia, competing among destinations like a Hawaii. for example.

“When we look at what we can do individually, it’s not as much as if we can get together and collectively sell the Caribbean as a region.”

She said a Caribbean single-entry visa would be required to achieve this. “That has to lie at the level of Caricom heads. It’s something that is critical for the survival of our tourism. One thing covid has taught us, is that we’re stronger together and we’re weaker apart.”

According to a report on globaldata.com, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Cuba and the Bahamas were the five most popular destinations in the Caribbean in 2021.

Burris said Tobago has to make a significant investment in marketing to crack previously untapped and unattained markets.

“In order for us to break through the noise, to remain relevant and remains on the minds of people, we have to make some significant investment in marketing.”

She said the aim is to grow the tourism sector into a sustainable industry.

“How do we build out the tourism sector to be a main pillar of the private sector, so the THA doesn’t have to bear the burden of employing the most amount of persons on the island. Now they can depend on the tourism sector to be a resilient pillar of the economy and ensure we can provide jobs that pay a comfortable wage. Persons who have a passion for the sector to gravitate to the sector because opportunities are available there.”

Burris said the THA delegation, which was led by Chief Secretary Farley Augustine, also includes Tobago Tourism Agency Ltd (TTAL) chairman Alicia Edwards, TTAL marketing co-ordinator, UK marketing partners, Tobago Hotel and Tourism Association president Chris James, hoteliers from Comfort Inn & Suites, Magdalena Grand Beach & Golf Resort, Coco Reef, Tropikist, a Sunshine Tours representative, the Tobago Performing Arts Company, drummers, pannists and soca artiste Adana Roberts.