Richard Doumeng: Investing Now to Promote the Caribbean Brand

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - October 21, 2012

By Richard Doumeng
CJ Contributor

Now is the time for the Caribbean to come together and reclaim its throne as the number one warm-weather destination in the world.

The possibilities to brand and promote the “Caribbean” are endless, the CHTA and CTO are the closest they have been in our history and there’s a solid strategic vision in place.

Never before has a regional marketing strategy been so critical to our region. People used to say, “We need a warm-weather getaway. Where in the Caribbean should we go?” Now, people think, “We need a warm-weather getaway. Where in the world should we go?”

Nations around the world are focusing on travel and tourism. Why? Because it is a revenue producing department. Just look at Brand USA, which has been successful bringing 50 different states – including California and Florida who have their own large advertising budgets – together. It has also been successful in increasing awareness of the destination and bringing more visitors to the US.

Nations here in the Caribbean need to take notice and join this worthwhile cause. Our very survival depends on it. Tourism feeds our economy – everyone benefits. It’s more than hotels, restaurants, tour guides and taxi drivers, but fishermen, bakers, artists and more.

Every government, from the largest destination to the smallest island, needs to contribute to the Regional Marketing Fund so that our region can have a strong voice in today’s highly competitive travel market.

Many are skeptical, cynical even, of our plans. But the fact is – times have changed and we have to change with them. Before we compete over what island a visitor goes to or where they stay, we first have to come together as a region to get people to think about coming to the Caribbean.

How will we do that? Our first task is the re-launch of, which will provide a solid foundation for all future marketing. The Internet, if done correctly, is the great equalizer and levels the playing field for all destinations regardless of budget.

More than a website, the new will be a state-of-the-art 21st century information center. Every CHTA and CTO member will have a profile on the site with a direct link to their website. The website will also feature interesting editorial content and it will be engaging and interactive to sell our destination. The site will launch in January 2013 with those who have contributed and are members.

This website has been dormant for almost five years and still has more than a half million unique visitors last year simply because of the sheer strength of the URL. The new site will be a success. Through SEO, organic search and traffic to our partner websites, we will also be able to show results.

Ultimately, to be successful, everyone has to put skin in the game. The responsibility for the success of tourism in the Caribbean lies on every government and stake holder. Right now, only two countries — in addition to the CHTA and CTO — have stepped up to be part of this effort and contributed to the Regional Marketing Fund. I applaud their efforts and now call on every other government to join them.

I know your budgets are shrinking and you have to take care for the people on your island. But cutting tourism budgets are not the answer. Tourism is a revenue producer. It brings in dollars to your economy, benefiting your government and your residents. I ask you to trust us and believe in this cause by funding this critical effort.

Now is the time. This could be our finest hour. Together, the Caribbean brand can easily be the number one year-round, warm weather destination in the world.

Richard Doumeng is President of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, Managing Director of Bolongo Bay Beach Resort on St Thomas and past recipient of the CHTA Caribbean Hotelier of the Year award.

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