New Director of Tourism Warren Solomon thinks Montserrat’s visitor offerings can be improved with Out of the Box thinking from practitioners in the sector.
Solomon was sharing his thoughts after attending the annual Caribbean Week event hosted by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) in New York from June 2 – 7, 2019. The director, who took up the lead tourism post in February 2019, attended the event with Permanent Secretary in Office of the Premier, Mrs Daphne Cassell.
Caribbean Week exposes ministers, commissioners and directors of tourism from the 28 member countries of the CTO to marketing trends and technology solutions for the tourism sector, as well as insights into navigating the media landscape and maximizing such engagement during the Tourism Industry Forum and the Caribbean Marketing Conference. Delegates also received updates and developments from the regional industry, and participated in a series of business meetings on the future and direction of the CTO. The Media Marketplace drew a large number of top travel journalists who cover the Caribbean, and both PS Cassell and the Tourism Director were on hand to meet and conduct interviews with writers, bloggers and video producers, one of whom was Montserratian native, Victor Lewis, founder of Caribbean One Television Network.
“It’s important to be with your industry peers to be able to share experiences and get a better understanding of what kind of engagements and interactions consumers are looking for when they travel,” remarked Solomon. “In a presentation from MSC Cruises, for example, we were introduced to a campaign that features Martha Stewart promoting a series of off-the-beaten path destination tours, which will give passengers a curated authentic experience at the ports they visit. One that stood out for me was a Bush Medicine Garden Tour in one of our neighbouring islands.”
The director noted “While there may be a perception locally that touring options are limited, a bit of out of the box thinking and creativity could develop an activity for our visitors that we may take for granted. MSC positions this type of tour as a Small VIP Experience for which they charge a premium price.”
During the regional updates from the various destinations, it was revealed that over the last year and in the coming months, no less than 10 Caribbean countries were benefitting from a heavy investment in the accommodation sector, having been able to attract many high-end and popular brands. The Permanent Secretary, Mrs Cassell said “We have recognized that we need to become more targeted in our investment promotion and are already making efforts to strengthen our capabilities in this area. Likewise, in keeping with our Tourism Strategy and Master Plan, Montserrat will be positioned as the ideal destination in which to develop boutique resorts of 40-50 rooms, villas and eco lodges, so as to minimize the environmental footprint and promote sustainable development.”
The Permanent Secretary and the Tourism Director also represented island at the OECS Council of Ministers of Tourism Meeting, where a key agenda item concerned the development of a paper on a Tourism Marketing Fund, after which the committee will provide inputs into an OECS Niche Marketing Strategy to be financed by the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) programme.