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Workers Key to Growing Regional Tourism Industry

Workers Key to Growing Regional Tourism Industry (HM CTM Panel) Exploring the issue of integrated tourism development at the 42nd Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association’s Caribbean Travel Marketplace (CTM42), are a panel of experts. From left are Moderator and President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Nicola Madden-Greig; Executive Chairman of Sandals and Beaches Resorts, Adam Stewart; Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett; Minister of Tourism and Ports for the Cayman Islands and Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Hon Kenneth Bryan and Sustainable Development Programme Leader, Caribbean Region, with the World Bank, John Bryan Collier. The discussion on Integrated Tourism Development was one of the several sessions held during the Caribbean Travel Forum to kickstart CTM42, being held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre from May 20-23, 2024.

Minister of Tourism, Hon Edmund Bartlett has emphasized to tourism leaders throughout the Caribbean that while capitalism was the driving force behind economic prosperity, workers were key assets to growing the industry.
“Tourism is about people, and it is the people who are the driving force behind the energy of tourism, and therefore the number one concern of tourism must be the workers of the tourism industry,” he said during a panel discussion on ‘Integrated Tourism Development - Visioning a New Tourism Landscape,’ at the 42nd Caribbean Travel Marketplace, being held at the Montego Bay Convention Centre from May 20-23, 2024.

During the session, which was moderated by President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Nicola Madden-Greig, Minister Bartlett underscored that it was not the responsibility of either the public or private sector alone to ensure a good working environment in the tourism sector.

Mr Bartlett noted that “it’s a joint responsibility that we all must share in enabling the best labour environment to prevail, which will inure to high productivity, great performances and most importantly, the excellence of service, which will be the hallmark of the experience that the visitor comes to our destination for.”

Minister Bartlett said 60 percent of the value of the visitor experience was service, and the environment must be provided for the people to grow and thrive.

For his part, Executive Chairman of Sandals and Beaches Resorts, Adam Stewart painted a picture of the tourism industry not being simple but sophisticated and complicated. He expressed the view that “it is something that you cannot take a lot of chances with and it’s something that needs deep experience around it.”

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He outlined that there was the need for cohesion and continued dialogue between regional public and private sector players to effectively address key issues. “I think our problems are relatively straightforward to solve, none of it is rocket science but we have to start off on a position of understanding each other’s limitations: what are the government’s limitations, what can or cannot be done; what are the private sector’s limitations,” Mr Stewart expressed. He said both sectors must be able to hold hands, put in the infrastructure that will develop tourism and create wealth for economies and the people.

Fellow panellist, Minister of Tourism and Ports for the Cayman Islands and Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), Hon Kenneth Bryan stressed the importance of technology such as artificial intelligence to integrated tourism development, noting that it was inevitable and “it’s time for us to embrace it and try to figure out how to take advantage of it.” He said technology would allow for more efficiency in the future and for the transfer of labour into other areas.

Meanwhile, Sustainable Development Programme Leader, Caribbean Region, at the World Bank, John Bryan Collier pointed to where he thinks the public sector needs to be more engaged in tourism. “It’s not just the financial and business incentives for hotels or attractions; it’s also the education system to provide workers who can make good money working in tourism as opposed to working in call centres or somewhere else for instance,” he explained.