The less than vigorous marketing of Barbados and other Caribbean destinations in non-traditional markets is being blamed on limited resources.
However, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Hugh Riley said that organization would be doing what it could to help regional destinations enjoy a bigger slice of the pie in emerging source markets.
Addressing the CTO’s Caribbean tourism industry performance review and outlook at the organization’s Bridgetown, Barbados headquarters on Wednesday, Riley said while the Caribbean continued to tap into the Latin America market, he believed “there is always more that we can do”.
“We are paying a great deal of attention to what is happening in China and other parts of Asia and we are paying attention to Latin America too. But with the resources that the Caribbean has, we typically tend to fish where we know the fish are,” he said.
The CTO official said while he was optimistic about tourism performance in the Caribbean for 2019 and he wanted officials to celebrate the victories, he warned that they should never become complacent.
“We are never as a people going to ever be okay with being okay. We need to do better,” he said.
However, Riley warned that as Caribbean destinations seek out new markets from which to woo visitors to the region, they should ensure they maintain and grow existing source markets.
“This is a competitive industry that we are in. if you leave your flank unprotected the competition will just eat your lunch,” he said.
“So we do have to balance the resources that we have to make sure that we are getting as much as we can out of the US, out of the UK and out of continental Europe and the Caribbean and places we know that are our bread basket areas, but yes, we have to still pay attention to new and emerging geographic markets,” Riley explained.
Pointing to last year’s The Rhythm Never Stops 12-weeks marketing campaign, Riley said it was his hope to do a second and third phase.
“We ideally, would like to do a phase two and phase three and continue to market the Caribbean brand so that our screen never goes dark . . . but it is a resource issue,” he said.
“So here in the Caribbean we know that we do not have unlimited resources but I think we are doing a credible job with the resources that we have, but we have to do a better job of marshaling more resources. If we pool our resources in the region we can have the best chance of reaching our full potential in the established markets as well as the emerging ones,” said Riley.
He also urged regional destinations to capitalize on the marketing strength of Caribbean nationals living in other regions.
“The Caribbean diaspora is an awesomely powerful part of the sales force really, and brand champions for the Caribbean brand,” he said.