The Editor: I cannot but agree more with your recent editorial about tourism lighting the way when the region was in economic darkness after COVID-19, because tourism is indeed one of the most reliable industries in the world and the Caribbean has demonstrated this quite clearly.
In fact, a recent article in Magnetic Media online news quotes the Executive Chairman of Sandals Resorts International (SRI) Adam Stewart saying that tourism is the greatest industry in the world.
Stewart was recently telling members of the association of travel agents that even when he got the call that the world was about to shut down and Sandals would have to close its doors, he did not doubt for one minute the resilience of the region or the tourism sector — and never bought into the ‘false narrative’ that tourism was not going to rebound.
He should know, as Sandals is one of the biggest tourism stakeholders in the region, a major employer, investor, foreign exchange earner and consumer of local products. As Stewart recalls his father, the late founder of Sandals Gordon ‘Butch’ Stewart, used to always say that when God was making the World, he spent a little more time on the Caribbean.
The region has been ready-made for tourism and should be looking to capitalise on the surge in travel, not shy from it! As Stewart pointed out, these are exciting new times for travel and tourism, and he said Sandals 2.0 will be leading the way beyond the sun, sea and sand experience and will be seeking to immerse its guests in the culture of the islands, to interact more with the people of the islands.
Just imagine the hundreds of thousands of visitors who come here because of tourism and the market that opens up for local businesspersons, artisans and crafts-folk. If you think about it, it is an export market, without having to ship anything offshore and with no external tariffs on their products.
That is the power of tourism, and our tourism stakeholders are partners we should embrace and work alongside. Forget the diatribe from those who do not live in our islands, they view the world through academic lens, we must live the reality of it, and the reality of it is that there is no more beautiful, tourism designed place on the planet!