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Community tourism way to go, says expert


Community tourism way to go, says expert
Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Senator Lisa Cummins. (FILE) - FP

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The Caribbean has been advised to develop community tourism as a viable niche market to cash in on business from those travellers looking for experiences beyond the traditional sand, sun and sea as the region seeks to rebuild following the devastation caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

On World Tourism Day observed today, global travel and tourism industry leader Bruce Poon Tip told operatives in the Caribbean tourism sector that travellers were eager to escape the confinement of lockdowns enforced by the pandemic and wanted to “reconnect” through travel.

“Suddenly purposeful and meaningful travel means something and there is no greater way to deliver on that as a tourism destination than community travel,” said the founder of G Adventures and Planaterra, the world’s largest small group adventure travel company and pioneer of community tourism .

Poon Tip was the keynote speaker for the Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s (CTO) World Tourism Day forum entitled “The Future of Caribbean Tourism: Re-defining the S’s,” which examined the challenges, opportunities  and best practices for tourism resilience and recovery.

The expert in community tourism explained this kind of tourism was about creating tours and programmes built together with meaningful relationships with communities.

The challenge within the Caribbean, Poon Tip suggested, was going to be the length of time it would take for such a project to be fostered, developed and grown. But he said the benefits were the reward, since he forecasted it would be in demand by the traveller of the future.

In her opening remarks at the virtual conference, Minister of Tourism and International Transport Senator Lisa Cummins said it represented the “coming together of 12 regional and international agencies and institutions from the Caribbean and across the globe, as equal partners to play a role in contributing to the social and economic development of our beloved region.”

In his remarks, vice chancellor of the University of the West Indies Sir Hilary Beckles described the conference as “a discursive project built around the partnership paradigm” saying it was “necessary and consistent with the imperative of reinventing something that we are exceedingly good at”, referring to Caribbean tourism.

“We should never minimise the phenomenal global achievement of the Caribbean product, the brilliant people who have led this industry and who continue to maintain a very strong intellectual approach to the strategies at hand.”

Tourism leaders, academics in the tourism field, regional and international development partners discussed “Social Inclusion, Sustainability and Smart Destinations and Businesses”, identified as three key priorities integral to the Caribbean’s recovery strategies. (GC)