By Dana Niland
Bahamas Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis is urging regional leaders to explore new ways to grow tourism in the Caribbean — with the use of data chief among them.
Minnis, the Bahamas’ Prime Minister and representative for tourism in CARICOM’s “cabinet,” met with Saint Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet and a number of Caribbean tourism ministers this week ahead of a special Caribbean Tourism Organization Council of Tourism meeting.
“Prime Minister Chastanet and I challenged CARICOM ministers of tourism to develop a strategy paper on how member countries might use the resources presently available to us to execute research,” he said. “It is only through the use of empirical data that we will be able to effectively implement marketing and productive development strategies that will improve our tourism products and better the lives of our citizens.”
The CTO acts as the region’s tourism development agency, whose vision is to “position the Caribbean as the most desirable, year-round, warm weather destination.”
While marketing the region has always been a major pillar of the organization’s mandate, regional leaders are now suggesting that the CTO expand its research arm and make data collection and analysis a priority.
Bahamas Minister of Tourism, Dionisio D’Aguilar, said Caribbean countries must work together to improve tourism in the region.
“The plan is for the CTO to develop a first in class entity that would generate tourism data to help better inform decisions related to tourism,” D’Aguilar said. “Some countries feel they are working from insufficient data that is not in the best interest of their products.”
Bahamas Tourism Director General, Joy Jibrilu, said she was excited by the plan.
“The right research and data provided by the CTO would be extremely valuable to the Bahamas, not only for planning purposes in the Ministry of Tourism, but to the Department of Statistics, the Central Bank of The Bahamas and international agencies,” she said.
Jibrilu noted that while the Ministry of Tourism in The Bahamas has a strong statistics collection system, additional data provided by the CTO would help to provide even more useful and in-depth information, such as determining specific visitor spends and how that contributes to the overall economy.