The U.S. Virgin Islands is fully committed to a united approach to marketing the Caribbean region as a tourism destination, according to Beverly Nicholson-Doty, USVI commissioner of tourism.
She voiced her support for consolidated regional approaches at a recent meeting of several Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) ministers on St. Thomas.
“As the Virgin Islands, we may often think that we can go it alone, but I assure you that we cannot,” Nicholson-Doty said.
Underscoring that the Caribbean brand has never been more important, she pointed out that “it is so crucial for us as a region to recognize our independence and interdependence on each other to survive.”
Issues such as airlift and cruise calls in particular call for a united front.
Ricky Skerritt, CTO chairman and minister of tourism and international transport for St. Kitts and Nevis, echoed Nicholson-Doty’s sentiments.
In an address titled “There’s Never Been a More Crucial Time in Caribbean Tourism,” Skerritt said that is imperative to set aside differences that divide destinations within the region.
“We don’t have to agree on everything in order to improve our product standards and contribute to a better island experience for visitors, and we don’t have to be political supporters of the government to understand that successful destination tourism is achieved only by uniters, not by dividers,” Skerritt said.
He pointed out that “we don’t have to be rocket scientists to learn that the public and private sectors need to be partners if we are to advance and sustain our market recovery.”
Factors such as unemployment, high fuel prices, increasing food prices, political conflict and natural disasters “make it critical that the Caribbean work together both as a destination and as a region to compete in a complex and demanding tourism marketplace,” Skerritt said.
Other issues affecting tourism include taxation, intra-regional travel, effective marketing and service standards in addition to the recent U.S. recession and global economic downturn.
“Rather than sit back and wait for the tourists to come to us, we must work even harder and smarter to overturn complacency and become a region that once again is rife with tourism promise,” he said.