Caribbean islands need to share business between nations

Caribbean destinations ought to channel a healthy chunk of their marketing resources into attracting tourism business from the Caribbean-American and African-American markets.

That`s the verdict of travel and tourism experts in New York who will extensively discuss the issue of “diasporic tourism” when Air Jamaica and its corporate partners host two town hall meetings this Tuesday in Hempstead, Long Island and Wednesday in Richmond Hill, Queens.

Barbadian Hugh Riley, North American Director of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, said he has particular interest in this area of tourism marketing. “We must see ourselves and our countries must see us as potential tourists for the entire Caribbean. There are Bajans, for example, who have never been to St. Lucia, Jamaica, Martinique, St. Maarten or Dominica - that`s where the emphasis ought to be,” said the New York-based Riley.

“We must encourage Caribbean-Americans to visit hotels when they return to the Caribbean, because after visiting with Mum, Dad and Aunty, you sometimes would like to relax at one of the wonderful Caribbean hotels, whether a large all-inclusive or a small inn in the countryside,” said Air Jamaica`s Special Markets Manager Claire Robinson, who along with Northeast Regional Director, Campbell Rudder, shared morning show honours today on “The Global Village” with WLIB Radio`s Dahved Levy and Ann Tripp.

In addition to Caribbean expatriates, San Francisco-based Michael DeFlorimonte, a top commentator on the spending power of minority communities, says American corporations - some more than others - are quickly realising the economic impact of the African American community and so should Caribbean destinations. “Attracting this market is no longer an option, but a necessity,” he said explaining that to do so is “good business sense.”



African American actress, Perri Gaffney, agrees and thinks that Black people in general are overlooked for all kinds of products and services. “The Caribbean is our home. It`s just like going back to Africa or anywhere in the world because the Diaspora covers the entire world. (When you travel to the Caribbean), you are buying black. You are giving to your family to enrich all of us as a group, people and as a culture.”

Claire Robinson expects “hot conversations” this week on these important issues, the outcome of which will be comprehensively disseminated to Caribbean tourism planners.