BUSINESS MONDAY – Call for single Caribbean brand

It will not be business as usual when the tourism industry in the
region resurges, and given that reality, one tourism expert is
suggesting that there needs to be greater collaboration within the

Partner with The Portfolio Marketing Group, Hugh Riley, said that
there will also need to be greater cooperation between governments in
the region and stakeholders in the industry.

Riley, the former Secretary General and Chief Executive Officer of the
Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), made the observations during a
webinar hosted recently by the Sagicor Cave School of Business, on the
topic ‘Perspectives on Economic Growth’.

“All kinds of harmonised protocols are going to be necessary. The
airlines have already said to governments of the Caribbean and to
everybody else, it’s important to have this sort of harmonisation of
protocols. Nobody is going to try and remember which island has this
particular protocol and which has that, no one will be hopscotching
through a whole maze of these protocol. If we can harmonise them, we
stand a better chance of success,” he stated.

While suggesting the need for greater regional collaboration, he said
that having a single Caribbean brand is the way to go. He said it is
not only practical, but he argued that it has worked for us in the

“I’m not going to suggest that a pandemic is exactly the same thing as
9/11, but 9/11, 2001 was the first time that there was this sort of
paralysis of travel and people were afraid to get on a plane to go
anywhere. So all the planes were grounded, certainly in the United
States and other parts of the world, and the Caribbean was wondering
what are we going to do next,” he said.

He said a campaign was introduced which raised awareness about the
Caribbean and the countries that participated benefitted from
increased travel.

With that in mind, Riley said the region need not fear that marketing
the Caribbean as one will result in persons seeing all the countries
as the same.

“We are not all the same, there are individual assets and
peculiarities and we’ve become very well-known certainly within our
group for saying this – if you’ve seen one island, you’ve seen one
island; that’s all you’ve seen. We understand how to distinguish the
uniqueness of one Caribbean country from another,” he contended.

The former CTO boss also indicated that in this covid-19 environment,
there is going to be considerable demand for financial support for the
aviation industry. He said the trend is already being seen by
governments and he is predicting that it will intensify.

“In the future there will be a shift in the balance between airlines
seeking destinations to fly to and destinations paying airlines to
come. That’s how the balance is going to be shifted. It’s a tough pill
to swallow, but I think that’s the reality,” he indicated.

More restrictions likely
Another tough pill to swallow, he suggested, will be restrictions on
terminal access. Riley is also predicting that there will come a time
when rather than taking our loved ones to the airport terminal and
saying goodbye, we will have to say goodbye at home or in the parking

“We will not be able to come to the terminals unless we are
travelling,” he stated.

His comments came as he said that travel going forward will likely
feature more self-service equipment being put in place and greater
reliance on technology at ports of entry. He also predicted that there
will likely be more of a move towards digital immigration cards. (JRT)

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