Marketing the Caribbean: “More than just sea, sun and sand”

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Melissa Noel explains that the latest trend in marketing the Caribbean is to focus on individual characteristics that distinguish each island, as explained by the keynote speaker at this year’s Caribbean Tourism Organization’s “State of the Industry” conference in St. Thomas, USVI. Here are excerpts of Noel’s article; see full article in the link below:

[. . .] In an effort to position the Caribbean as the most desirable, year round, warm weather destination by 2017, member countries of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) are being urged to market beyond sea, sun and sand in order to make that vision a reality.

“Caribbean destinations must ‘operate like businesses’ and focus on their inherent and individual strengths to surmount significant regional challenges and remain competitive with global vacation destinations,” said Alex Zozaya, chief executive officer of Apple Leisure Group, a top U.S.-based hospitality company. Zozaya, who estimates that Apple’s retail travel agency, resort and destination management businesses generates one of every ten annual visitors to the Caribbean, said that many tourists have a “blurry” image of Caribbean destinations, believing each is identical to all of the others.

“Tourists traveling to the Caribbean do not remember the differences between different islands,” he said.

As the keynote speaker at this year’s CTO “State of the Industry” conference in St. Thomas, Zozaya advised Caribbean destinations to focus on individual characteristics that distinguish each island.

Some Caribbean destinations are already doing that with recent campaigns.

Dominica [. . .] Dominica’s Director of Tourism, Dr. Colin Piper, said the island saw a 30 percent increase in US arrivals this year as the island continued to push their  “Nature, Culture, Adventure” campaign. With this campaign, the island promotes vacations for adventure travelers who want to do things like hike and dive but also want to enjoy music festivals and authentic Caribbean cuisine. Between 4,000 and 7,000 people were expected at the 18th annual World Creole Festival, which features top music acts in genres including Reggae, Zouk, Soca and Kompa music. This year’s festival took place from October 24th-October 26th. It’s never to early to start planning for next year.

British Virgin Islands: BVI’s Director of Tourism, Sharon Flax-Mars, announced details of the annual culinary extravaganza, BVI Food Fete. This month-long celebration offers a variety of food tasting events and local food events throughout November. [. . .]

Grenada: “Pure Grenada: The Spice of the Caribbean,” is the new destination brand the country’s ministry of tourism unveiled earlier this year. Rudy Grant, CEO of the Grenada Tourism, sat down with the Grio  in July to talk about how the campaign would make Grenada stand out as a top-of-mind destination through niche marketing. These niche markets include diving, yachting, romance and adventure. The brand also promotes Grenadian culture through traditional dance, steel pan music and the chance to experience why Grenada are known as the Spice Isle. [. . .]

Cayman Islands: “Caymankind” is the phrase used to describe the experience of a trip to the Cayman Islands. “We like to call ourselves the culinary capital of the Caribbean,” said Director of Cayman Islands Tourism Rosa Harris as she talked about the more than 150 restaurants visitors to the Cayman Islands can enjoy. The island’s restaurant month takes place annually in October. Harris also invited delegates to come and experience Cayman Cookout, which takes place each year in January and features celebrity chefs and traditional Caymanian recipes. [. . .] Pirates Week Festival takes place every November and features a parade, cardboard boat race, sea swims, 5K walks/runs, turtle releases and more. For sports fans, The Cayman Islands Marathon takes place on the first Sunday in December every year. It attracts runners from all over the world and includes a full marathon, a half marathon and a Kids’ Fun Run.

[. . .] Other islands have long been known for their distinct offerings, like Barbados for its annual Crop Over festival, St. Vincent and the Grenadines for their mountainous terrain and volcanoes, and Trinidad and Tobago, the birthplace of Soca music and the steel pan. The Twin Island Republic is also famous for its carnival, an annual event that attracts thousands of people from all over the world. [. . .]

For full article, see http://thegrio.com/2014/11/11/the-caribbean-more-than-just-sea-sun-and-sand/#s:15-spice-basket-performance-photo-by-spice-basket-ltd

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