Allen Chastanet, chairman of the Caribbean
Tourism Organization, minced no words in his keynote address at
last month's Caribbean Hospitality and Tourism Conference in Miami.
"It's amazing to me
that we keep on rejecting excellence," Chastanet said. "We find
every excuse to maintain the old and are not willing to change with
the new. We keep comforting ourselves with all the excuses we can
find as to why we are not successful -- the U.S. economy is down,
there is lack of adequate airlift, all those things."
a recent example of failure in the Caribbean.
"The West Indies
Cricket Board managed to convince our governments to spend $750
million to host World Cup Cricket, and we still cannot raise $4
million a year to do regional marketing," he commented.
spoke about some good news. The tourism industry is projected to
grow at an annual rate of 4.5% over the next 10 years. Big
investments are being made in the Caribbean. New products and
brands are being introduced.
"We still have time
to win the race, but we need to start measuring our success not
based on the arrivals of our neighboring islands but on what our
potential is," he said.
He asked delegates
to look at what the Caribbean "could be, not what it
"Mexico averages 47
million U.S. arrivals a year," said Chastanet. "The Caribbean,
including Cozumel and Cancun, has 11 million a year. The Caribbean
diaspora numbers more than 11 million West Indians living abroad,
readily available, but how many of us have a consistent campaign to
reach out to them?"
He urged delegates
to "take down the walls of our own insecurity, understand the power
of the Caribbean brand and aspire to the greatness that the region
contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].