Tourists who visit the Caribbean islands every year are changing their almost absolute objective of enjoying the sea and the sun, to become increasingly interested in cultural issues and the national heritage of the regional destinations.
Tourism is a cultural asset of Caribbean nations and the national economic essence, is the opinion of the Jamaica Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett who seeks to promote the growth of tourism in his country and in the Caribbean region.
Bartlett explained his views during the Tourism Resilience Summit of the Americas which took place at the Regional Headquarters of the University of the West Indies.
The relations between the different Caribbean cultures and tourism are visible in the region. This is not a new concept for Bartlett.
Last year he said to a Jamaican news agency that according to the Caribbean Tourism Organization, the heritage tourism segment represents one of the highest yield tourism groups, ahead of both traditional mass markets and other tourism audiences such as arts.
Statistics indicate that heritage tourists spend 38 per cent more per day, and stay 34 per cent longer than traditional tourists. Bartlett noted that recent international tourism trends have pointed to a shift from the traditional “sun, sea and sand” phenomenon towards a more interactive experiential form of tourism.
Recent research estimates that up to 75 per cent of adults, who visit the region annually engage in some form of cultural activity or event.
“Indeed, Jamaica, like most other Caribbean islands, is widely known for its myriad of spices and herbs, its native food preparation techniques and dishes, its many exotic fruits and grains, its music, its dance forms, its language and other aspects of its exotic culture,” Bartlett said.
Citizens will also benefit as they will get increased opportunities to showcase and market their cultural and creative products and services though craft vending, street food establishments, island tours, food festivals, musical and cultural concerts, art exhibitions; and visits to museums, galleries and heritage sites.
“This will ensure that tourists visiting these islands will not only get an opportunity to partake in local culture and heritage but will also develop a profound appreciation and respect for the cultures of others,” according to Bartlett.