Tourism still making us proud
The recent awards earned by the Cayman Islands tourism sector at the World Travel Awards (WTA) Caribbean & The Americas Gala Ceremony 2012, held in the Turks & Caicos Islands are the kind of accolades in which all of us should take pride.
Once again, the Cayman Islands earned the distinction of being the “Caribbean’s Leading Dive Destination”. This is no small accomplishment and is one that points directly not just to natural underwater beauty, but to rigorous efforts to maintain a pristine environment that continues to attract divers from all over.
The Grand Cayman Beach Suites took the award for being “Cayman’s Leading Hotel and the title of the Caribbean’s Leading Hotel Residences” went to none other than the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
It is evident from these awards that these properties have maintained the high standards and outstanding delivery of service that have enabled them to stand head and shoulders among their competitors in the rest of the Caribbean.
It is not always easy to maintain consistent quality in the service business, and doing so requires an extraordinary level of understanding by all concerned of the need to always operate at the highest standards.
It is also challenging to do so within the changing environment and tough global economic climate that has had its very strong and persistent impact on Caribbean tourism over the past several years.
The winners in this country and across the Caribbean must therefore be given due credit for their super efforts in climbing to pinnacle of their industry and maintaining themselves there.
Caribbean tourism on a whole was in pole position at these recent awards and a wide cross section of properties from several islands numbered among the awardees.
Jamaica was named “Caribbean’s Leading Destination”. St Lucia earned the title of “Caribbean’s Leading Honeymoon Destination”, Coco Reef Resort (Tobago) picked up “Caribbean’s Leading Hotel”, while Necker Island (British Virgin Islands) was voted “Caribbean’s Leading Private Island”.
Buccament Bay Spa & Resort (St Vincent) was named “Caribbean’s Leading New Hotel besting The Hotel Chocolat (St Lucia), Hotel Riu Palace Bavaro (Dominican Republic), The Magdalena Grand Beach Resort (Tobago) and Cofresi Palm Beach & Spa Resort (Dominican Republic).
These awards of course lead up to the World Travel Awards Grand Final in New Delhi on 12 December. The Caribbean will be amply represented and, judging from its current awards, should continue to shine among global competitors. It will be proof positive that tourism is not just a business for the region but an intrinsic and proud part of the heritage of our Caribbean islands.
As part of one of the biggest industries in the world, Caribbean tourism occupies a special place and has a brand recognition that has nurtured over many decades. It is a significant contributor to GDP and to foreign exchange earning in many countries, some of which have had to move away from an agriculture-based production in the context of globalised economy. A labour intensive industry, tourism is also a major employer of both skilled and unskilled labour across the Caribbean.
Caribbean societies also derive social and cultural benefits from tourism, as investments and concomitant job creation in the sector enable many to achieve upward mobility into a middle class lifestyle. In some countries, tourism creates significant linkages with other sectors of the economy, such as farming, transportation and many areas dominated by small businesses, art and craft traders and proponents of traditional and local culture.
Although Caribbean tourism is vulnerable to the winds of global economic change and, in some places, over development in the sector presents challenges for the environment and for social development, it must be argued that the industry continues to provide immediate and long term benefits for the people of the Caribbean. It is an industry that should continue to be nurtured and maintained to the high standards that these recent travel awards demonstrate.
That the Caribbean remains a popular choice among world travel destinations is attributable to the importance that regional governments and investors place on tourism and the continued top class service that is a hallmark of so many properties and destinations in the region. Tourism still commands pride of place, and justifiably so.