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Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, is in support of a regional marketing strategy for the sector which, he says, is a new approach that would give visitors an opportunity to have “multiple experiences” in one vacation.
The Minister was in Montego Bay, St. James, to participate in tourism-related talks with CARICOM leaders during the 31st Meeting of the Conference of Heads, now in its third day (July 6) at the Rose Hall Resort and Spa.
Establishment of a Regional Tourism Marketing Fund was a major agenda item discussed by the Heads, who are exploring how the regional marketing venture could be funded.
Mr. Bartlett explained that multi-destination marketing would provide several benefits, including alleviation of certain airlift challenges. He noted that as the aviation industry continues to grapple with costs, and rationalise routes and merge some airlines, it was important for the region to find creative ways to ensure that airlines continue to make stops in the various islands.
“What we are finding is that, particularly for long hauls, airlines are quite willing to do what we call double drops and triple drops. So that you fill a plane, for example in Brussels, but you have passengers for Jamaica, for [the Dominican] Republic and say for Cuba. And that allows us to secure that flight, whilst Jamaica alone might not have been able to fill that plane and it would become quite costly and we may not have got that flight,” Mr. Bartlett illustrated.
Responding to questions regarding the feasibility of a regional marketing strategy for countries which are direct competitors, Mr. Bartlett said this should not be an issue, as each island has a unique experience to offer.
He noted that visitors on extended holiday would appreciate the opportunity to move between destinations within the region, experiencing the various cultures of each island.
He was supported by Secretary-General of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), Hugh Riley, who said that one of the Caribbean’s strongest qualities was its diversity.
“They (tourists) see the fact that they can have cuisine and history and art and culture and topography that is incredibly varied.So, the point is that the diversity of what we sell within the Caribbean brand is exceedingly appealing to people outside of the Caribbean, and inside of the Caribbean, by the way,” he said.