Sunday 21 July, 2019

Caribbean urged to embrace emerging technologies on World Tourism Day

CTO General Secretary Hugh Riley

CTO General Secretary Hugh Riley

The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) is positioning Caribbean tourism to capitalise on emerging technologies.

In his World Tourism Day message, Hugh Riley, General Secretary of the CTO, said they have consulted with some of the foremost thought-leaders and are encouraging public and private sector investment in digital innovations that have disrupted traditional business models.

"It is our duty to our members to explore and introduce new tools and capabilities which alter the way we approach tourism marketing and development and we must do so at all levels," he said in his message. 

Riley said one of the best examples is our digital learning series of e-workbooks containing creatively designed audiovisual and multi-lingual materials, designed to encourage and facilitate the teaching of tourism in Caribbean schools.

"Among other objectives the e-workbooks are meant to build greater awareness among young students regarding the significance of tourism to the Caribbean; demonstrate the importance of preserving our environment for ourselves and for our visitors; enlist the creativity of students to enhance tourism’s success; and showcase the full range of career opportunities tourism presents to Caribbean people," he said.

Riley also cited the Tourism Information Management System (TIMS), an online application launched by the CTO in 2015 to capture, analyse and display tourism related data for the benefit of our members. This tool captures arrival and departure data from embarkation and disembarkation records via a business analytics system which illustrates the data in a more visual and comprehensible way, facilitating additional reporting and actionable insights.

Riley said with the launch of the Visitor Intelligence Database for Analytics (VIDA) in 2016, some CTO member states began to maximise returns on their marketing investment with the VIDA segmentation tool, utilising postal codes to reveal rich data on the region’s visitor demographics.

He said the CTO is actively collaborating with innovative and disruptive companies such as Airbnb, an online community marketplace that connects travellers with hosts in over 190 countries.

"Together with Airbnb, the CTO is assisting Caribbean tourism officials and stakeholders to maximise the benefits of the sharing economy, and home-sharing in particular. This work includes informing stakeholders of the value of peer-to-peer review mechanisms; providing economic analyses of Airbnb’s impact; developing policy guidelines and recommendations for the consideration of Caribbean lawmakers; exploring ways to make the sharing economy beneficial to our destinations while working in concert with all segments of the accommodation sector; and identifying ways to more effectively market the Caribbean as a region," he said.

The CTO is also working with Bitt, a Caribbean financial technology company to develop ways of using blockchain technology and mobile money systems to the advantage of the tourism industry.

Riley said this work includes promoting the inclusion of micro, small and medium tourism enterprises; providing fast, simple and secure methods for visitors and locals to complete wide range transactions; and assisting vendors and policymakers to improve data-processing and decision-making.

The CTO’s State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) at Paradise Island, the Bahamas from October 1-5, will feature a key session on ‘Modernizing the Experience: Using Technology to Enhance the Visitor Experience. The discussion will cover a broad range of applications from customer-centric hospitality models leveraging technology, to the way industry leaders are using mobile and virtual reality innovations to differentiate brand identity.  

"In the coming months, the CTO will continue to develop an agenda which encourages and assists member states’ efforts to create digitally-enhanced tourism services via entrepreneurship and innovation. It is our firm belief that more efficient resource management will empower our local communities and help build a truly inclusive tourism sector.

"Tourism must bring benefits to all members of our society. Emerging digital technologies provide a range of new tools that can tackle challenges faced throughout our member states, increase profitability and bring about positive change for stakeholders that will improve the quality of life for all Caribbean people," said Riley.

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