Caribbean Diaspora A ‘Silent Giant’ Says New Tourism Chair
By Felicia Persaud
News Americas, FRIGATE BAY, St. Kitts, Fri. Oct. 19, 2012: New Chair of the Caribbean Tourism Organization and Commissioner of Tourism for the U.S.V.I, Beverly Nicholson-Doty, says the Caribbean Diaspora is a silent giant and should be tapped.
Nicholson-Doty made the comment during her first press conference on October 12th in Frigate Bay, St. Kitts as the CTO wrapped up its second State of the Industry Conference.
Asked by Irie Jam Radio host, Irwine Clare, of her goals to market to the Diaspora, Nicholson-Doty, insisted she sees it as a major opportunity for the Caribbean and as chair, will expand outreach to the many Caribbean nationals living in the U.S. and Canada, much as she’s done as head of U.S.V.I’s Department of Tourism.
“We see this as a major opportunity to increase our sales force not just to first generation Caribbean nationals but to their children,” said the new CTO chair. “We intend to continue reaching out to the Diaspora and expanding the efforts the CTO has made so far.”
Former Chair and Minister of Tourism, Ricky Skerritt, endorsed Nicholson-Doty’s comments on the Diaspora and said a Diaspora conference will be held in St. Kitts next year for Caribbean nationals.
Under his watch, the CTO expanded its focus on the Diaspora, launching OneCaribbeanDiaspora.com, a website to begin exclusively targeting this marketplace.
And the CTO says it will continue this effort, with committees set up all across key cities, offering input on the best way forward to engage this bloc of expatriates.
Airline Task Force
Meanwhile, Nicholson-Doty is getting down to work fast, insisting that the first order of business will be the setting up of an airline task force to look at the challenges of getting more flights to the region, and by extension, more travelers.
The issue is critical for many destinations, given the closure of American Eagle services to San Juan next March, delays with intra-regional travel via LIAT and the fact that many Caribbean nations now see tourism as their economic lifeblood.
Conference delegates got a firsthand view of the hassles of travel – both intra regionally and internationally – last weekend, when Tropical Storm Rafael grounded many for days in St. Kitts, following the event.
American Eagle, American Airlines, LIAT and British Airways could not land on Saturday, October 13th due to Rafael leaving hundreds of people, including ministers of government and tourism executives, stuck at the airport. U.S. Airways which landed despite bad weather, could not take off after the airport closed due to high cross winds and pouring rain.
The weather left many returning to the Marriott Hotel in Frigate Bay with some conference participants, including journalists, forced to stay put until Wednesday, October 17th, for a local flight to Trinidad.