Barbados and the other countries of the Caribbean and Latin America are benefiting from growth in intra-regional travel, a trend that seems to be also affecting Africa Asia and the Pacific.
The assertion came from the United States Ambassador to the Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Larry Palmer during the launch of the Sustainable Destinations Alliance For The Americas at the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s offices this morning.
“Growth in the size of the middle class throughout South America, especially Brazil, Chile, Peru, represents an important opportunity to attract regional tourist. Tourists who will appreciate the shorter distances and a cultural familiarity. What is important is that we must take it slowly and we must stay the course.
“A sustainable approach to tourism development, emphasizing authenticity will help to attract higher value tourist at a volume more in line with the regions carrying capacity and, will also help in differentiating destinations,” the ambassador noted.
He further offered the suggestion to an audience made up of major tourism stakeholders drawn from across the region, that a community-based approach built on a foundation of small and medium sized business would foster local engagement and ownership which would prove beneficial.
Palmer warned that tourism development should not be seen as a short-term cash cow.
He said, while tax and other concessions might encourage investors to set up shop in one’s country, improving the investment climate for everyone, whether it means better contract enforcement, customs facilitation, or increasing your rank in the World Bank’s Ease Of Doing Business Index can help the tourism sector and create a level playing field while not eroding the tax base.
Meanwhile the secretary general and chief executive officer of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, Hugh Riley, in welcoming the initiative noted that the projects planned under the Sustainable Destination Alliance For The Americas will allow more comprehensive measurement, monitoring and management of tourism sustainability.
“They will enhance the existing capacity to do so amongst our tourism stakeholders, and assist in positioning our destinations as part of a region where tourism strives to optimally utilize its resources, and provides a unique visitor experience, as well as an improved quality of life for our citizens, through multi-sector partnerships like this one.
“This is no small feat. Sustainability must be at the core of the tourism products we develop and market, and the way we plan and manage the industry. This certainly is a collective, global responsibility; but as the world’s most tourism-dependent region, we in the Caribbean must care more about issues of sustainability than anyone else,” he said.
The Sustainable Destinations Alliance For The Americas is the first ever large scale multi-sector initiative for sustainable tourism destinations in the Caribbean and Latin American regions. The initiative aims to improve the way tourism is managed and to enhance the global competitiveness of the region, by embedding sustainability into the day-to-day management and marketing of destinations throughout the region. The first phase of the initiative will include seven participating destinations from the Caribbean and Latin America.