State of the Tourism Industry (SOTIC), an annual event organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, is a week of tourism activities where people who play key roles in tourism throughout the region meet to discuss issues affecting tourism in the Caribbean and to formulate solutions and courses of action to better the tourism brand.
This year’s week of activities ran from October 9th – 14th under the theme:
Super-Charging the Caribbean Brand: Meeting the Needs of the New Explorers
It was an enlightening experience and I was happy to hear tourism officials from some of the islands devastated by hurricanes Irma and Maria report that the islands are on their way to recovery and that hotels and other tourist attractions will soon be reopening. READ MORE from Ed Welscher, Caribbean Editor of Recommend Magazine.
My decision to attend the conference was last-minute and was unable to be at all the sessions, but I did manage to get three days and did not regret it. There was lots of information shared. Some not directly linked to tourism, but which can definitely help us all to super-charge our tourism brand. There were some key moments for me throughout the activities and I thought I should share with you:
The first three points are from the event’s keynote speaker, Dorsey Levens, retired Green Bay Packer Running Back Super Bowl winner who now wears many hats as Executive TV Producer, Writer, Actor, Sports Consultant and motivational speaker. He is also the founder and President of Levens Communications.
Dorsey’s keynote speech was a different kind of keynote, but it was very motivational and these points are two of the many I took away:
1.One of the fist things Dorsey spoke about was this one word WIN which stands for ‘What’s Important Now’. In everything we face, what ever the situation is, we should always think about what is important now and what are the best actions we should take for the best outcome.
2. You are incapable of changing any one but yourself. Isn’t that the truth!
3. During a panel discussion on ‘Key Recommendations for Moving Forward’, it was mentioned that reservations were being cancelled in islands that were not affected by the storms because people believe that when one island is affected, the entire Caribbean is gone down in ruins? Sounds strange that many people still do not know that there are hundreds of islands stretched across the Caribbean Sea and if one is affected, the other most likely may be open for business. Fernando Fernandez (seated in the middle) – Vice President of Development for the Caribbean, Apple Leisure Group – mentioned that we need to do more to educate people outside of the Caribbean and include it in our marketing campaigns. I couldn’t agree more.
4. Shadel Nyack-Compton, Managing Director of the Belmont Estate, moderates ‘Business Models That Rock’ and gave a colourful description of our island to open her segment.
Before attending SOTIC, I made sure to browse the events on the site to get a heads up of what to expect. I was really excited to see that Mrs. Nyack-Compton was the moderator for this segment. She is a hard worker and has done well with building a business that rocks today – The Belmont Estate. Also from the this segment, Jason Nichols, Lead Brand Partner of Linqia spoke on Influencer Marketing.
— Shadel Nyack Compton (@ShadelNyack) October 11, 2017
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll know that I am an advocate for small business owners attending events like these. It is a way to meet people, make connections and share your business to the world. A few of the people I spoke to were amazed to know about our growing blog community.
Ed Wetschler, Caribbean Editor for Recommend Magazine and Annette Moore Public Relations Officer, Grenada Information Services.
Tasha La Touche, Founder & Chief Epicurean Officer of Savor the Spice.
Abegail Sandy, Founder and Owner of She Naturals.
Staff and management of Caribbean Horizons.
Standing with Hon. Alexandra Otway-Noel, Government Minister & Parliamentary Reprentative and Jazelle Sylvester, Communications Officer for Ministry of Sports.
6. The next two ‘take aways’ came from a panel discussion on ‘Spice Up the Caribbean Brand’, moderated by Hon. Alexandra Otway-Noel, MP.
Mr. Sheldon Keens-Douglas, Regional Communications Manager of Cable & Wireless Communications, shared a few ways in which we can spice up our tourism brand. One of his points which can be applied within any niche was “Creating new content can help you differentiate your brand in the market place”. I am a firm believer in this.
7. Omar Kennedy, Executive Director of Animekon, also sat on the panel and introduced a whole new different form of tourism which targets creatives from across the world. AnimeKon is a comic-con held in Barbados which brings creatives from across the world to enjoy a few days of learning and fun at an annual event called ‘Geekcation’. Learn more HERE.
8. Caribbean Youth Congress
One integral part of CTO’s week of tourism activities is the Caribbean Tourism Youth Congress where Junior Ministers of Tourism comprising students between the ages of 14-17 research various facets of the tourism sector and share their vision for the future direction of regional tourism, in a competitive environment. – CTO.
There were 10 islands represented, including Grenada (Jovani John, pic above), who all did very well. They brought really great ideas to enhance each island’s tourism product, but in the end, it was Francis Alexander of St. Lucia who dominated the competition and is now Junior Minister of Tourism for the Caribbean.
9. Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon aka @JetSetSarah presented on a few things which makes the Caribbean stand out from other destinations. She mentioned that its not just about sun, sea and sand. There is more to us as a destination which we should celebrate such as our character. Caribbean people are warm and welcoming people. We should also celebrate our differences. Though we are one Caribbean, there are many islands within the region, each having a different personality and unique character, which makes each island different from the next.
10. Sampling Belmont Estate chocolate. Yes, I love chocolate and I truly believe Grenada has some of the best chocolate in the world.
There were many more highlights of the week of activities such as Stephanie Oswald (Editor in Chief and Founder of Travel Girl Magazine and award-winning journalist, CNN) sharing on what women want when they travel and Chris Spring on how the Caribbean can welcome Chinese culture, but the post will be too long.
To learn more about Caribbean Tourism Organisation’s State of the Tourism Industry, visit their website HERE.