John Issa, Chairman of Jamaica`s SuperClubs resorts, wants the Caribbean to take the tourism industry more seriously if ordinary people are to maximise its positive impacts and experience higher standards of living across the region.
“If we remain small-minded, we will remain small,” says Issa, one of the region`s leading hoteliers.
He stressed that the Caribbean coast of Mexico, The Dominican Republic and Cuba have a more progressive outlook on the importance of tourism than CARICOM(Caribbean Community) nations.
Speaking at a recent tourism show in Jamaica, Issa said that the Caribbean has enormous potential, but the “petty jealousies” that destroyed the West Indies Federation in the 1960s are stifling tourism growth. “We are suffering because we are more divided than we are united and we are suffering because the tourist industry is over taxed,” he lamented.
admitted that the political and business leadership have both let down Caribbean people, and called for legislation to allow the free movement of people, capital and goods within CARICOM. “(Right now), we`re just spinning wheels,” he said, calling for the elimination of measures that restrict Caribbean hospitality professionals from working in other territories.
Issa highlighted Life Needs the Caribbean, the new regional marketing campaign, as a progressive initiative that has united the region.
Last fall, the Caribbean Hotel Association Charitable Trust (CHACT) launched the US$16 million campaign to market and promote the Caribbean as a single destination. The Trust, a public/private sector alliance, united major hotel chains, airlines and credit card companies with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, CARICOM and non-CARICOM nations.
GoCaribbean.com allows the region to play a full role in the entire distribution channel of Caribbean holidays, rather than just focusing on the delivery of a product. Consumers and travel agents alike can now book airlines, hotels and other Caribbean properties at bulk or heavily discounted rates.