From 21 to 23 March 2019 the annual Trade Fair for Tourism will take place on Sint Maarten – the Sint Maarten Annual Trade Show (SMART). The program is filled with innovation masterclasses, workshops for the tourism industry, business-to-business meetings and festivities. Tour operators, travel agencies, travel bloggers and event planners visit the exhibition from all over the world. For the most up-to-date information and contact details, go to the SMART St. Maarten website.
The challenge is to support the long-term sustainable growth of tourist destinations in the EU, preserve shared natural and cultural assets and ensure quality of life for local communities.
“No tourism industry can be sustainable without involving the whole community. No tourism can succeed unless it is friendly to the environment. So we protect the environment, protect the local communities.”More at Euronews
Bren Romney, who was a Moderator of the Workshop, detailed Anguilla’s plans to build a state-of-the-art business incubator on Anguilla dedicated to innovation.
The space will stimulate collaboration and entrepreneurship, creating employment for youth, enhancing the experience of visitors, increasing incomes of the people of Anguilla, he said.
Specifically, the business incubator will:
help convert start-ups and ideas into viable businesses;
foster creativity and collaboration;
target young Anguillians in ICT, creative industry, light manufacturing and professional services and
encourage App developers from around the world to come to Anguilla.
“Bonaire will position itself as a progressive island in terms of synergizing people and nature. This will result in a positive economic, cultural and nature stimulation for the island,” said Ms. Helvig Thode, Bonaire’s Representative.
In 2017, the tourism industry contributed 229 million US dollars to the local economy and 25 per cent of jobs are tourism related. The challenges include the competition from elsewhere, an underperforming mainstay tourism sector – diving – need a more diversified portfolio inadequate pricing of eco-tourism sector, need for improved accommodation, convert Bonaire into a high-end destination with 30 per cent of hotel inventory at four-star plus star.
The intention is to convert tourism industry into an engine that serves all of Bonaire, notably using its credentials as the First Blue Destination. It was the first Caribbean island to have a protected marine park and 40 per cent of the island uses clean energy. Becoming a blue destination is aligned to Bonaire’s culture history and the heritage of the people who have embraced and protected the ocean for their livelihood.
Tourism innovation in TCI started with a vision: “We envision becoming a country where the very mention of our name invokes images of peace, safety and security, a place where residents and visitors enjoy authentic experiences,” said Alexa Cooper-Grant, Innovation Directorr for TCI.
“Having successfully established an image as a luxury destination, the Turks and Caicos Islands has an opportunity to lead the way in the region and become the “new luxury” benchmark against which other destinations are measured.”
TCI’s tranquil, luxurious settings, where nature and protection of the environment are considered sacrosanct and sustainable development is pursued for the benefit of all our citizens, residents, investors and visitors.
The Turks and Caicos islands has built its innovation in tourism around three As: improving accessibility of the islands by accessibility – both air and sea, improving accommodation – hotels, villas and b and bs and improving attractions museums and art houses.
Known for its outstanding pristine beaches – notably Grace Bay – TCI has created niche markets weddings, honeymoons, and water sports. It enjoys a reputation as one of the top 3 dive destinations in the world as well as offering kite boarding, paddle boarding and kayaking.
Mr McGregor emphasised the need to apply innovations in digital technology to the tourism sector to capture new markets. Technology is influencing the ways the public is planning, booking and even experiencing destinations.
All trip planning by OCT visitors starts online through the use of a computer, tablet, smart phone or Smart Watch. It means that websites and mobile apps must be created with a view to inspiring and informing potential visitors, said Mr McGregor.
Reviews from other travellers, quality videos, information in digital travel trade journals, and blogs count. Travellers consume user-generated content including information and opinions from previous visitors and particularly those with similar interests.“Instagramability” is nowa prime factor in positioning a destination.
Digital technology has also changed visitor expectations. There is a need to create a distinguishing “sense of place”. Visitors expect to experience the direct and continuous interaction with local people and their environment.
To adapt to the new digital environment, his suggestions include
improvements to visitor experiences, environmental protection[biodiversity enhancement, coastal management and adaptation], improved information and educational opportunities for visitors and the adoption of new technologies into revenue management and maintenance and marketing systems.
As an isolated OCT territory, Wallis and Futuna faces specific individual challenges in innovating in the tourist sector, said country representative, Joao Jessop.
The island has limited sea freight transportation, it has a very low online presence, a very limited tourism offer and lodging capacity and high emigration. In addition, tourism is to some seen as a threat to the local population and faces stiff competition from other Pacific destinations. The impact of human activities on the environment such as water quality and the effects of climate change are also a major consideration in any future tourism development.
Yet, it has a has a strong cultural identity
Some of the measures being taken to innovate in the sector are:
Hiring a project chief (in process)
Defining a common tourism project
Defining benchmarks for tourist etc.
Working on the visibility of the destination
Creating a website on the destination
Creating documents about W&F
Creating a tourist office,
Making of every actor, an ambassador or an host
Continuing with development projects of tourist sites.
Prof. Dr Anne-Mette Hjalager addressed “Innovation Policies in Transition – Possibilities and Challenges for OCTs”. She grouped action on innovation into three areas: capacity-oriented challenges and system-oriented innovation and mission-oriented innovation policies.
Professor Hjalger listed the OCTs’ wicked problems that have implications on tourism: de-population; ageing population; migration; exposure to nature catastrophes; monocultures of the general business environment; depletion of resources fresh water, soil, and nature protection dilemmas.
Others are: anti- and counter-tourism ideologies and practices; financial dependency on mainland countries; human resources and capacities
and the continued uncertainty over Brexit negotiations.
In a separate presentation, she addressed the revitalising of tourism destinations such as closer links between tourism and gastronomy. Food is currently massively imported into the OCTs and gastronomy is under-sold as a tourist attraction. There is a lack of distinctive cuisines that can contribute to the tourist experience.
Professor Hjalger’s recommendations include getting closer to the food resources, curating landscapes and built heritage, encouraging connectivity between local food providers and the tourism industry and enhancing the gastronomic experiences for the visitors.
Mr Jezic von Gesseneck impressed the need for systemic innovation in OCTs across all sectors, including tourism.
“The time has come to ask the right questions and find new answers to how OCT governments can best foster innovation in tourism. OCTs should not be copycats for other countries’ innovation policies; OCTs need to find their own way,” said Mr Jezic von Gesseneck, on the workshop’s focus.
“Those island destinations that have identified and implemented innovative solutions, creative attractions and visitor services tend to be more successful in securing constant growth and overcoming geopolitical issues and natural disasters,” he added.
He pinpointed the key features of the implementation of systemic innovation:
- An actively pro-innovation Government.
- A Head of Government who champions innovation.
- The appointment of an Innovation Director & Innovation Board
- Encouragement to Public/Private partnerships in OCTs
- Capacity building through Learning-By-Doing and the creation of an ePlatform
- Open Innovation – knowledge sharing.
- The creation of thematic Centers of Excellence in OCTs
- Tailored Technical Assistance & Projects