Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Regional Tourism at the Cross-Roads: Perspectives of Caribbean Tourism Organization's Stakeholders

Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Regional Tourism at the Cross-Roads: Perspectives of Caribbean Tourism Organization's Stakeholders

Article excerpt


The Caribbean has experienced considerable fluctuations with many of the small island-nations of the Region being highly vulnerable to socio-political, environmental and economic changes. The Caribbean Tourism Association (CTO) contends that this Region is highly dependent on tourism, possibly more than any other region in the world, but globalization has left the countries of the Region with limited economic alternatives. The result is that tourism has emerged as the largest employer and the foremost foreign exchange earner in the Region. This survey research study, data from which were analyzed with SPSS for Windows, explored three research questions and identified the Region's strengths, assets and issues as perceived by stakeholders at the CTO's 2010 Sustainable Tourism Conference. People, culture and favorable weather were identified as strengths. However, critical issues such the absence of clear political and policy directions, loss of biodiversity and natural resources, need for more efficient zoning and land use planning for integrated tourism development, and insufficient stakeholder involvement were characterized as challenges that must be addressed. Recommendations are proposed.

Keywords: Caribbean, tourism planning, stakeholder perspectives, tourism assets, CTO

1. Introduction

1.1 Global Significance of the Tourism Industry

The tourism industry is recognized as a major development strategy for countries and regions worldwide. This industry is considered vital to tackling global economic challenges. In spite of the unpredictability of the global economy, the tourism industry has continued to grow, albeit, at different regional rates. Encompassing transportation, lodging, dining, leisure activities and services for travelers, the travel and tourism industry is one of the largest industries in the world and a major generator of jobs bringing significant social, cultural and economic, and benefits to the global economy.

This industry caters to travelers or tourists who are, as defined by World Tourism Organization (UNWTO, 1995), persons "traveling to and staying in places outside their usual environment for not more than one consecutive year for leisure, business and other purposes". The 1991 Manila Declaration on World Tourism defined tourism as an "activity essential to the life of nations because of its direct effects on the social, cultural, educational and economic sectors of national societies and on their international relations" (UNWTO, 1995). The industry's importance as a major social and economic development strategy was recognized during the Rio Earth Summit in1992, when the UN Conference on Environment and Development identified Travel and Tourism as a key economic sector which could positively contribute to sustainable development. The Summit led to the implementation of Agenda 21, an all-inclusive action plan adopted by governments to provide a global plan for sustainable development. The Travel and Tourism industry was first to launch an action plan based on Agenda 21.

According to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO, 2011) tourism is vital to tackling global economic challenges and in spite of the unpredictability of the global economy, international tourism is one of the few sectors that continues to grow. Worldwide, the number of international tourists grew from 435 million to 940 million at an average annual rate of about 3.4% (Table 1) during 1990 through 2010 (UNWTO, 2011). Arrivals in the Americas, however, only grew by an annual average rate of 1.6%. Central and South America experienced the largest rates with 4.4% and 6.4%, respectively, while the Caribbean experienced an average growth rate of 1.7% between 2000 and 2010. UNWTO data shows that overall, international tourists arrivals in the Caribbean grew by approximately the same rate between 1990 and 1995 (22.8%) and 1995 to 2000 (22.1%). However, the Region experienced significant declines with growth rates of 9. …

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