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Tourism growth – one size does not fit all

On a visit to a Caribbean Island last year a very wise man told me:

“The government does not understand the impact of large hotels and cruise ships on the environment. The focus is on what the developers want, not what the destination wants. The government needs to look at what the island wants from development and then see how tourism can contribute to that”

When put like this it seems so simple, but it’s not always that easy for governments. They are often in power for such short terms and potential foreign investment, job creation and tax revenue can dominate decision-making. It’s easy to overlook potential negative impacts on the very assets that make the destination attractive to visitors.

RIV villageI thought about this constantly after that visit and then came an opportunity to develop an online training course in collaboration with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). This was a chance to demonstrate how governments can play a central role in guiding the development and management of tourism and are in a unique position to facilitate collaboration between tourism and other sectors.

A Roadmap to Destination Success is designed to help government ministry personnel and others involved in tourism planning to take a step back and reflect on the paths that tourism development can take. It explores what is meant by sustainable tourism in very practical terms and why it is so important to take a holistic and integrated approach to tourism planning.

The training has been designed to be practical and accessible with a focus on inspiring Caribbean destinations to take action.

Every destination is unique and complex; there is no one model that can be applied to ensure success; there is no blueprint. It requires time, resources, capacity building, investment, multi-stakeholder collaboration and continuous monitoring and evaluation. All of which can be challenging to implement within government frameworks where results need to be demonstrated within a 4 year term and a limited budget.

This challenge however needs to be overcome if destinations are to develop, prosper and thrive long into the future. The CTO have the vision to make this happen and we applaud them for it.