Caribbean Tourism folks working on new Total Visitor Satisfaction program
We already have Trip Advisor and other web sites to share and find information about our favourite destinations. Now comes word the Caribbean Tourism Organization may go one better.
CTO executive director Hugh Riley told a press conference in Toronto earlier today that Caribbean countries are working on what's called a Total Visitor Satisfaction program, by which tourists can rate destinations on a variety of factors. The data will help destinations improve where their service or facilities are lacking.
Of course, it also will mean members of the public will see where a particular destination ranks, which could cause the odd political or public relations problem.
Riley said he's committed to the program and that destinations have to be transparent, but he also noted that it's "a work in progress" and that there's still debate as to how much information will be made public.
"I'm leaning very heavily towards giving it all to them," he said.
Riley, an engaging speaker and a good guy to chat with over a coffee, said destinations would be rated over everything from beaches to environmental programs to accomodations.
"No other region in the world has it," he said of the TVS program.
Of course, no other part of the world is as dependent on tourism as the Caribbean.
The good news for Caribbean tourism types is that Canada, a huge market for them, is doing them proud. Riley said visits from Canada are up between seven and eight per cent this year, compared to 2010. He also said that, on a per capita basis, Canada sends more visitors to the Caribbean - about 2.8 million a year - than any country on earth.
"Thank you for treating us with such importance when you make your travel decisions," he said. "We don't take you for granted."
Riley (see photo, courtesy of Travel Hot News) said they do very well by Ontario but are hoping to lure more Canadians from the west and from Atlantic Canada. A lot depends on marketing, but even more important is simple ease of access; meaning more flights.
China also is an important market, and they've been sending more folks to trade shows and setting up more offices in China, Riley said. He noted that forecasts suggest China will send more tourists abroad than any country in the world by the year 2020 - not so far away.
Europe also is key, and Riley minced no words when talking about the latest round of taxes that have been slapped on visitors departing the UK.
"We're concerned about aviation taxes out of Europe," he said. "The duty out of the UK is a travesty that doesn't seem to be going away."
Faced with a severe tax problem, the British government recently announced that it would increase its air fare tax next year by 10 per cent or 8 per cent, depending on what report you read.
A story in the Telegraph explained that a family of four flying to North America will now face a massive tax of $415 on top of their airline tickets, an increase of $32, or $8 per person.
Caribbean nations have fought hard against the tax, but apparently to no avail.