Wednesday, 2 April 2014

No quick fixes

US Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, His Excellency Larry Palmer, is calling on the region’s tourism developers to not treat the industry as a short-term cash cow to the detriment of its sustainable integrity.

Speaking at the launch of the new Sustainable Destinations Alliance for the Americas (SDAA) which was launched last week Thursday at the Warrens offices of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, Palmer suggested that while tax and other concessions might entice investors to set up shop in one’s country, there were other ways in which governments could bolster their tourism product and make it more attractive, without having to erode their tax base.

He noted that improving the investment climate, whether that meant better contracts enforcement, Customs facilitation, or improved rankings in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, could help the region’s tourism sectors and create a level playing field.

Stressing on the importance of the region being able to differentiate itself in the market base via a carefully maintained sense of place, the Ambassador submitted that doing so was, in the long run, an effective tool for attracting high-value tourists and staying competitive.

He was of the view that maintaining ecological integrity was of particular importance to the region and being able to do such would help maintain a powerful element of product differentiation.

Ambassador Palmer praised stakeholders involved in the formation of the SDAA, a private-public regional partnership, noting that great advantages were to be had when a well-planned approach to tourism development was delivered. One such advantage, which he spent some time addressing, was intra-regional travel growth.

“Growth in the size of the middle-class throughout South America, especially Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru, represents an important opportunity to attract regional tourism; those who would appreciate the shorter distances and cultural familiarity,” Palmer opined.

He also encouraged the region to stay the course with a sustainable approach which emphasised authenticity, adding that doing this would help attract high-value tourists at a volume more in line with the region’s carrying capacities and also help in the differentiating of our destinations. (RS)

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