By K Denaye Hinds
HOW DOES one identify one Caribbean Island from another?
For the unassuming traveler wanting to have a great time in a sun-filled destination, how do they differentiate? How are our islands achieving unity as a region, but diversity within our tourism products, services and offerings?
When we think about sustaining the Caribbean tourism industry as a region, we must ask ourselves, what do we offer to keep them coming back?
Sun, sand and beach may be realized anywhere, but what truly sets us all apart are the idiosyncrasies of our lush landscapes, varied flora, unique fauna indescribable naturesque scenery but most importantly, our identities as island people and the cultural essence of our natives.
They say that money makes the world go round – I prefer to say that people make the world go round.
With the varied forms of islands either through sand dunes, volcanic eruptions or the like, the very being of our culture exudes the most precious resource we can market.
Whether laid-back or proper, low key or excitable, English or Ebonics, Papiamento or Patois, the people and culture of the island is the differentiating factor that drives the experiential memory.
Within our tourism product we must hold the number one driver to its highest standard and embrace the very fabric that allows our islands to be in existence, our people.
Embracing that history and authenticity every day and engaging residents within the tourism spectrum and offerings will surely provide a sustainable platform throughout the region for tourism business.
Sustainability is not only about energy efficiency and water conservation, rapidly renewable materials, waste management and smart design, but also incorporating and supporting local cultures and the socio-economic benefits; ensuring the longevity and visibility of island traditions and customs.
These are the elements that sustain our tourism product throughout the Caribbean, along with the aforementioned sustainability considerations. These are also the variances travelers seek as they embark on their quest to discover a new destination.
Uniquely Caribbean can only be expressed by the people — thus inclusion of the local flavour and style through encouragement of local business and products must be a backbone of our tourism product.
Our focus on support and human resource development, small business incubators and regional standards of service are required to allow entrepreneurship and successful local tourism ventures to flourish.
Community tourism, national pride campaigns and an emphasis on quality infused with the ongoing traditions of our region will seek to strengthen the culture of sustainability throughout the tourism sector of the Caribbean.
K Denaye Hinds, the Director of Sustainability for OBM International, writes the Sustainable Caribbean column for Caribbean Journal. A Bermudian with years of experience in the field of engineering and sustainability throughout the islands, she is a LEED AP. Follow Denaye on Twitter: @MissGreengineer and Tweet about your island’s unique #caribculture!