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The Caribbean economies must take a sustainable development route if they are to make a comeback on the international tourism scene. This would be possible only through the active participation of the government and the industry.
Travel and Tourism stages a comeback in the Caribbean People from the travel and tourism world back in the 1970’s would remember the Caribbean for the paradise that it used to be. The conditions were promising and the per capita contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). But since then the things have been slightly different. Other destinations in places like the South Americas and the Far East came in and took away the tourism dollar over the past two decades. Meanwhile the Caribbean economies themselves were going through a tectonic shift, moving from an agrarian based model to other, capital intensive ones. As a result, the market dynamics have shifted towards being more dynamic in nature. The global economic slowdown hasn’t helped matters and the whole of the Caribbean has been under its throes. They must adopt the sustainable development route if they are to make a comeback on the international tourism scene. Traditional support of certain sectors will have to be rerouted to other profitable ventures. Growth shall have to be carefully crafted out of a mix of pre-existing industries and newer, developmental activities. Among the many options available in the Caribbean, tourism remains the one with the most potential. Blessed with an abundance of islands, sand and sea, the Caribbean tourism industry must be brought to its former glory. It still remains a significant player in the employment and financial contributor to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the Caribbean nations. Most of the fears about the viability of the tourism industry have proved to be unfounded. Tourism has grown to be a major contributor to the economy of every nation that has promoted and supported it. This statement is underlined by the International Monetary Fund saying that increase in tourism traffic has a positive and measurable effect on the economy. Besides being a primary employer, the tourism industry is also an excellent secondary and tertiary booster of jobs. This is due to the very nature of the industry that behaves in a more inclusive manner, depending upon inter-linked synergies across the manufacturing, processing and various other sectors of the economy. Even the ethnic arts and crafts community stands to benefit from the growth of the tourism industry. At the end of the day, such strong growth figures are going to be possible only through the active participation and support across all the levels of the government and the industry. For this to materialize, the Caribbean does have the basic goods in hand. How the region reacts to the competition remains to be seen in the years to come.
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