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Tourism And Hospitality Management In The Caribbean
This issue is dedicated to the Caribbean, arguably the most tourism dependent region in the world. The Caribbean is a fascinating and unique region. An archipelago of tropical islands naturally decorated with exotic flora and fauna, surrounded by blue sea water and gentle breezes, and blessed with 365 days of sunshine is the general impression of the region in the minds of many. This image made the Caribbean the most sought after region for romantic holidays and honeymoons in the world. But the Caribbean has much more to offer to the millions of tourists and cruise passengers it attracts (Jayawardena, 2002). For convenience, the term ‘‘Caribbean’’ is used in this special issue to identify 33 destinations that are members of the umbrella organization of the region’s tourism industry, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). In this definition, the Caribbean region includes a few countries/regions on the mainland in South America and Central America. The area between the south of Florida in the USA, Cancun in Mexico, Belize in Central America, Venezuela, and Suriname in South America, is now referred to as the Caribbean. although in the Atlantic Ocean, the Islands of Bahamas and Bermuda too are treated as Caribbean countries by the CTO.
Tourist arrivals to the 33 CTO member states increased by approximately 59 per cent from 1990 to 2000, or at an average of 4.7 per cent. This compares favorably to 4.3 per cent growth rate of world tourist arrivals over the same period. Tourism receipts in the Caribbean during the year 2000 were just under US$20 billion, and the latest CTO forecast predicts that this should rise to some US$35 billion by the year 2112. The past, present and future of Caribbean tourism in a nutshell looks like that shown in Table I. To external observers, the Caribbean is always full of surprises. As an example, many will be surprised to note that the four Hispanic Caribbean states: Cuba, Dominican Republic, Cancun and Puerto Rico record the highest growth rates in the Caribbean, and currently control around half of total arrivals to the region. In 2000, only six Caribbean countries attracted over one million tourists and the arrival figures (in millions) in these countries for 2000 were:
1 Cancun – 3.04;
2 Dominican Republic – 2.97;
3 Cuba – 1.77;
4 Bahamas – 1.60;
5 Jamaica – 1.32; and
6 Puerto Rico – 1.17 (CTO, 2002).
These six countries attracted 58 per cent of the arrivals, reflecting something of an imbalance in the distribution of tourism wealth across the Caribbean. Overdependence on one major market is another problem in Caribbean tourism. With the exception of a few countries, such as Cuba, tourism in the Caribbean is overdependent on the US feeder market. The tourist arrival figures in the year 2000 indicate the six main feeder markets to the Caribbean as: 1 USA – 50 per cent; 2 France – 8 per cent; 3 The Caribbean – 7 per cent; 4 Canada – 6 per cent; 5 UK – 6 per cent; and 6 Germany – 4 per cent. The 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks in the USA and the reactions by US travellers posed the biggest challenge to Caribbean tourism since the Second World War. At a regional summit of the heads of government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) held in December 2001, the future of tourism was a major item in the agenda. A vision for Caribbean tourism to the year 2012 was evolved at this summit.
This vision speaks to: The further development of a Caribbean tourism industry that is fully understood and embraced by the peoples of the region and which, through co-operative action among governments and with the private sector, makes a significant and sustainable contribution to development in both mature and emerging destinations (CARICOM/CTO, 2002). The vision is predicated on the development of a set of core strategies related to sustainable development, investment, marketing and access transport arrangements which in turn will be complemented by a set of support strategies regarding human resource development, organization and funding.
In the 13 articles selected for this special issue, 16 authors address some of the current issues that are relevant and significant to the future development of tourism and hospitality industry in the Caribbean. Donald Sinclair examines the challenges facing indigenous tourism in the emerging destination of the Guianas. He argues that great care is needed to preserve its cultural heritage – one of the reasons for its attractiveness to tourists. Ian Boxill develops a similar theme as he reviews the tourism potential for Belize. He argues for an alternative to the mass tourism route, founded on nature, education and community tourism and an approach that will help to sustain the history, culture and ecology of Belize.
In order to research their article on Cuba’s tourism education strategy, Patricia Wood and Chandana Jayawardena undertook three field visits and among others, they interviewed senior Cuban policymakers. The outcomes reveal some surprising insights on Cuba’s strategy for tourism education, notably its determination to ‘‘professionalize’’ its industry, given the rapidly growing number of tourism arrivals. In the second of two articles dealing with educational issues, Michelle McDonald and Royston O. Hopkin consider the challenges facing Grenada and the need to modernize and expand the training and educational support for tourism development. In a study of three Caribbean destinations, Anne P. Crick analyzes the provisions made for the internal marketing of tourism to host populations. The Caribbean is generally known for the warmth and friendliness of its people and yet attitudes to tourists vary between locations and more could and should be done to promote the benefits of tourism to local Caribbean communities. John J. Issa, chairman of Super Clubs and pioneer of the ‘‘all-inclusive’’ Caribbean resort concept, writing with Chandana Jayawardena, reviews its past, present and future significance. They conclude that all-inclusive resort holidays will continue to play a significant role in tourism development. In the first of three ‘‘Research in brief’’ articles, Eritha Huntley and Carol Barnes-Reid examine the growing tension between religion and work scheduling, with reference to Jamaica’s hospitality industry. Chandana Jayawardena and Diaram Ramajeesingh review the performance of Caribbean tourism from an economic perspective and among other findings, reveal that Aruba strongly outperforms the more mature tourism destination of Jamaica. To conclude this section, Hilton McDavid and Diaram Ramajeesingh consider the balance between government and industry leadership of tourism policy and present the case for stronger industry representation.
This issue contains four ‘‘Viewpoints’’ and the first, from Nikolaos Karagiannis, considers ways in which the linkages with tourism might be strengthened with the aim of assisting Jamaica’s economic development. Anthony Clayton focuses on sustainable tourism in the Caribbean and the improvements needed in tourism policy planning and implementation to maintain this focus. Godfrey A. Pratt considers the impact of terrorism on two Caribbean destinations and the on-going work needed to persuade tourists to travel and, finally, Chandana Jayawardena and K. Michael Haywood profile the skills needed to successfully manage international hotels in the Caribbean. I sincerely hope that you will enjoy this thought-provoking collection of articles from the Caribbean.
Previously published in: International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Volume 15, Number 3, 2003
68 pages; ISBN 9781845444822
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