Op-Ed: Why the Caribbean Needs a Regional Cultural Promotion Plan

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - August 9, 2012

By Patricia Bingué
Op-Ed Contributor

It is quite refreshing to see the various nations of the Caribbean assigning high priority to the tourism industry, such as Haiti’s current branding campaign, Montserrat’s development of a National Cultural Policy and other tourism industry-focused initiatives.

As an individual of Caribbean descent, I understand how important it is for each country to lay the groundwork on a plan for its tourism industry.

I also know that a much higher level of growth and sustainability could be achieved if the ministries of culture and planning of every country would make a concerted effort to engage collaboratively for the creation of a regional culture plan, accessible and supported by every nation.

For maximum effectiveness, a collective cultural plan should start off on an informal level, which would entail semi-annual or quarterly conference calls between the responsible parties of each country to discuss any major upcoming national cultural project with the ultimate goal of collaboration.

There are four reasons why creating a joint initiative is important:

  1. The countries within the region are partners, not competitors.
  2. Caribbean countries share the belief that it takes a community to make an individual, a group, a business or a country
  3. What the Caribbean countries have in common is greater than what sets them apart; partnering on various aspects of a cultural plan would therefore be a smart and strategic approach.
  4. Multinational collaboration would foster a regional tourism industry beyond the current one, which focuses on North America and Europe.

Starting on an informal level would give the initiative the opportunity to grow organically by giving it the proper time and space for supporting processes to be evaluated and established. It would also limit the investment of resources such as time, human capital and money. It could also begin fairly rapidly and be adjusted as needed.

One of the by-products of promoting a tourism industry is the increased awareness of the cultural heritage of the area or nation being promoted.

Cultural and folkloric heritage, although often misunderstood, misused and exploited, are excellent resources for job creation, community building and support, both for a nation and a region.

If done with a clear focus and accountability, a well-established regional cultural promotion plan would help fuel economic growth for all of the nations in the Caribbean region.

Voices of Culture’s Patricia Bingué is a consultant servicing culture professionals, cultural centres and artists.

Note: the opinions expressed in Caribbean Journal Op-Eds are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Caribbean Journal.

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