Caribbean tourist boards have been slammed by Oliver Johnson, President of Barbados Tourism Authority for being outdated and inefficient. He believes that many of them need restructuring and operate merely as å‘extensions of the civil serviceå’.
“Tourist boards are still functioning as if we are the civil service back in the 50s and 60s in terms of the decision making,” he said. “We desperately need to innovate our tourist boards.”
He argued that the industry was being hampered by cumbersome bureaucracy, which foiled quick decision-making.
However, he said Barbados
had developed a National Marketing Committee—a partnership between both the private and public sector, which could serve as a model for other Caribbean islands.
The committee, he explained, encapsulated the tourist board`s marketing of hotels and attractions owned by the private sector.
Tourist boards, the regional official added, often develop marketing strategies, without the input of the private sector; but it was the private sector, he argued, that has the necessary expertise.
And Johnson, who was speaking at the recent Caribbean Media Exchange`s (CMEx) closing session, “Caribbean Tourism: The Way Forward”, called on regional governments to be more proactive in safeguarding the industry that is their primary source of income.
“The way forward for Caribbean tourism… is action and innovation,” he said. “We in the Caribbean cannot become completely dependent on an American Airlines… who probably won`t be here two years from now… and yet we seem unable to respond beyond the usual platitudes that we all support regional carriers.”
Johnson suggested that there should be a consolidation of routes, establishing common fleets and the sharing of maintenance costs among the regional carriers to cut expenses.