‘The Caribbean region is underperforming.’ — Allen Chastanet, CTO chairman
Tourism pros feel the urgency to market their product better
By Gay Nagle Myers
At a panel discussion during the Caribbean Marketing Workshop in New York,
moderator Glenn Bean, director
of sales and marketing, North
America for the Bermuda Department of Tourism, posed the
following question to the panelists: “What do we need to do differently in tourism marketing?”
Their answers revealed not only
their passion for the Caribbean
and their resolve to rework strategies but also their determination
to hold fast to culture, tradition
The panelists included Aloun
N’Dombet Assamba, minister of
tourism, entertainment and culture for Jamaica, and Allen Chastanet, minister of tourism and
transportation for St. Lucia and
chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization.
At a panel session during Caribbean Week were, from left,
Aloun N’Dombet Assamba, Jamaica’s tourism minister; Allen
Chastanet, CTO chairman and St. Lucia’s tourism minister; and
Edward Lewis, Essence magazine. The moderator (standing)
was Glenn Bean, Bermuda Department of Tourism.
Assamba: Our focus is the visitor
experience. If our visitors do not
have a good experience in Jamaica, they will not return.
More than 45% of our business
each year comes from repeat visitors.
What distinguishes our sun,
sand and sea from other islands
is our attractions, and this sector
has to receive the same incentives
as the hotel sector.
We market our culture, we sell
our experiences, and in the end it
comes down to the connections
made between visitors and the Jamaican people that seals the deal.
Chastanet: We must establish a
vision. I told our tourist board to
develop a brand that will make
visitors want to come to St. Lucia.
We must look at the process to
see why things are working or not
working and find the areas where
there are gaps.
Travelers are more experienced
now and are using many resources to research their trips, such as
Trip Advisor. Tour operators and
hoteliers are no longer in control.
The Caribbean has lost market
share in the past 15 years. We are
not growing as fast as other markets, such as Dubai and Las Vegas,
for example, which have made
quantum leaps in attracting visitors.
The Caribbean is one word
with multiple cultures. We must
be able to define these cultures.
Technology and brand drive
the marketplace. We take too long
to figure out solutions and resolutions to problems.
Bean: What is obsolete in marketing? What should we embrace
Assamba: We must never forget
that our business is all about relationships, and that the travel
agent continues to play a key role
in these relationships.
This business may be high-tech, but it also is high-touch, and
we need that balance.
People always must be part of
Chastanet: The Caribbean region
is underperforming. We have got
to figure out how to have a regional marketing campaign, how
to fund it and to deliver on the
experience that everyone wants.
The most powerful brand we
have is the Caribbean. We have
some very bold things to do in
the next few months, and we will
not let you down.