Caribbean destinations advised to embrace cultural tourism

|
Attending the trade show and agent seminar during the Caribbean Tourism Organization's annual Caribbean Week event in New York were, from left: Lorine Charles-St. Jules, St. Lucia Tourist Board; Donna Carlin, Stepping Out Travel Services, Brick, N.J.; Diana Hechler, D. Tours Travel, Larchmont, N.Y.; and Suzon MacAulay, Stepping Out Travel Services, Monmouth Beach, N.J.
Attending the trade show and agent seminar during the Caribbean Tourism Organization's annual Caribbean Week event in New York were, from left: Lorine Charles-St. Jules, St. Lucia Tourist Board; Donna Carlin, Stepping Out Travel Services, Brick, N.J.; Diana Hechler, D. Tours Travel, Larchmont, N.Y.; and Suzon MacAulay, Stepping Out Travel Services, Monmouth Beach, N.J. Photo Credit: Gay Nagle Myers

NEW YORK — Today’s Caribbean travelers want to do more than sit in the sun and drink rum punch, according to Arnie Weissmann, editor in chief of Travel Weekly.

Weissmann addressed more than 100 agents at a travel agent seminar during the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s annual Caribbean Week event here.

He focused on the opportunities presented by the evolution of consumers’ desires for new and authentic experiences in the areas of Caribbean food, culture and nature.

Back in the day, the goal for most visitors was to stay in as nice a resort as they could afford, and in aggregate, the islands had properties that could accommodate people at any price point, according to Weissmann.

“People were satisfied with local color rather than authenticity — a limbo show often seemed to do the trick,” Weissmann said.

Differentiating what each island brings to the table beyond sun and sand is vital.

“The travel industry at every level must at least offer the opportunity for authentic experiences to travelers,” he said.

He cited the emergence of Cuba as an example of a destination whose culture is different, exotic and mysterious.

Half of the agents in the room indicated they had clients who want to go to Cuba.

“They want the experience of going where others haven’t gone before,” one agent said.

“It’s not been accessible. People are curious about the culture and history there,” another agent said.

Weissmann pointed out that these are the same aspects that other Caribbean islands offer and asked his audience for examples of experiential travel they could offer up in talks with their clients.

Cooking classes in Martinique, Jamaica’s Meet the People program, voluntourism opportunities in local schools, church services, fish fries in Turks & Caicos and Barbados, a tour of a chocolate factory in Grenada, full moon parties in the British Virgin Islands, mud baths in St. Lucia, jazz festivals, Carnival celebrations were cited by agents as well as island tourism representatives in the room.

“Each island has a lot that is unique and sellable. When the Caribbean is marketed, not a lot of emphasis is put on the distinctiveness of individual islands,” Weissmann said.

He suggested that regional destination marketing  “has to drill down to point out the unique aspects each island offers to visitors and how it complements its neighbors in the region.”

Comments

From Our Partners

Crystal Cruises – What’s Next, 2020 & the 30th Anniversary Collection
Crystal Cruises – What’s Next, 2020 & the 30th Anniversary Collection
Watch Now
HAL_AlaskaCruising_Hero
Capitalizing on a Peak Year for Alaska Cruising
Read More
2020 Elite Island Webinar
More Family Fun in St. Lucia @ St. James’s Club Morgan Bay
Register Now

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI