Tourism has long been the primary industry on the majority of the Caribbean islands due to the largely incredible natural beauty and wildlife which attracts hoards of “vacation hungry” visitors all year long.” (Sophia Southern, n.d.). Tourism accounts for a large amount of the Caribbean’s economy and work force.
The most important tourist centre in the Caribbean are Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Island, Jamaica, The Bahamas and Barbados.
Tourists are attracted to the Caribbean for many reasons some of the main factors are:
Geography – The Caribbean which extends from the southern tip of Florida, pass the Gulf of Mexico and down to the north-eastern tip of South America, attracts a lot of visitors each year. The Caribbean has numerous landforms such as islands, mountains, waterfalls etc.
Weather -The Caribbean has a tropical marine climate which gives it an all year round sunshine and this makes it perfect for the winter visitors. The equator gives the Caribbean temperatures `between 27-32°C. It is called marine because of the influence of the sea. During the day the sea is usually cooler than land. Winds blowing from the sea. This is one of the biggest reason why tourists are attracted to the Caribbean, The climate attract tourist to the Caribbean during the winter period their country
Tourism activities in the Caribbean have traditionally centre around the promoting of coastal attractions: beaches, coral reefs, coastal water.
Beyond the beauty of the beaches, its sparkling blue water and attractive coral reefs, there are lush tropical rainforest, volcanic, a rich cultural heritage
Culture and Sandy Beaches
The Caribbean culture is
The white sandy beaches of the Caribbean islands are a magnificent sight to see and parallel to none. The Caribbean is well known for its fine grained, soft white sand
The opportunities of water sports – When tourist come to the Caribbean they want to try water activities such as swimming, sailing, and snorkelling
Community tourism is not a recent phenomenon, it dates back to the early days of travel when travellers were accommodated in monasteries, inns, homes and hostels. Community tourism is dependent on the community itself its attitude towards tourist is recognition of the value of tourist business and the steps it takes to stimulate and promote it. It requires the involvement of the community as a whole and a strong working relationship with the tourism sector.
Community-Based tourism exists and can only be successful when there is a participation of the community in which the product is located. There can be full participation meaning that the community controls tourism in their local or limited participation of the community personnel. (Teaching Tourism in the Caribbean, December 2000)
Why Community Based tourism
Jamaicans sometimes feel left out from the tourism industry and do not believe that they benefit from the tourism therefore it is important for individuals to become stakeholder as they will now have a reason to protect and sustain the industry.
Community tourism is identify as an avenue to sustain growth, environmental sustain-ability enhanced visitor experience and community development. This would result in it being an inclusive industry where the benefits from tourism are spread more widely. (Team Jamaica, 2000)
Benefits of Caribbean based tourism
Increased employment both directly and indirectly.
Increased opportunity for social and cultural intercourse.
Increased income – the improvement of infrastructure and enhancement of the community
Improve quality of life
Principles of Community Tourism
Community Tourism is a new appearance. It is a spirit that spread throughout all sectors of the tourism industry. Community Tourism is about levels of relationships between the host country and the visitor.
What is appealing to the visitor is found among the varied natural attractions, local resources and talents, and indigenous attributes of a community or area. Through visitor-community interaction, respective cultures are explored, ideas and information are exchanged, and new friends are made. (http://www.communitybasedtourism.info/en/community-based-tourism/community-based-tourism.asp, n.d.)
Community Tourism fosters opportunities at the community level for local people wishing to participate more fully in the tourism industry. This may range from organising bed & breakfast accommodation in a rural home to creating income-generating tourism opportunities for an entire village.
Community Tourism is managed tourism in its profoundest sense, taking into account evolving travel trends in such areas as the environment, study and research, seniors travel and other special interests.
Community Tourism products and services are geared to address these trends and to satisfy the interests of emerging travel markets. Key clientele includes:
The mature market
Study and Research groups, including schools, universities, colleges and research based organizations
Environmentalists, botanist, ornithologists and nature lovers
The independent traveller
Caribbean Nationals – at home and abroad
The vision of Community Tourism is to expose the local resources and talents, and make the concept a reality for local people. Community Tourism embraces eco-tourism, cultural tourism, adventure tourism, recreational tourism, geo-tourism, heritage tourism, health tourism, farm tourism and all the popular special interest tourism.
Community-based tourism, therefore, is a combination of tourism products offered at a community-level to domestic or international visitors. In the Jamaican context, community-based tourism usually refers to visitor interaction with local people in the rural areas outside of the traditional resort areas. Community-based tourism does not mean that the rules that apply to traditional tourism sub-sectors do not apply them. The principles of health and safety for visitor’s drive tourism regardless of the setting in which the product is offered.
Community-based tourism, however, offers a unique opportunity for Jamaica. The process of community-based tourism development if managed effectively has the potential to alleviate poverty and illiteracy. Community-based tourism also has the potential to develop the natural creative energy of Jamaicans by transforming average citizens into entrepreneurs. It can be used to develop strong partnerships by twinning existing traditional tourism entrepreneurs with aspiring non-traditional tourism entrepreneurs. It can be combined with the existing tourism product offerings to create a uniquely Jamaica experience. Community-based tourism can be a stand-alone venture or a partnership of the traditional and the non-traditional products blended with Jamaican charm, culture and heritage to create a community tourism spirit that culminates in a truly Jamaican experience. Community-based tourism can bring out the best in the Jamaican people
In developing community-based tourism products it is essential to understand that:
Local conditions, culture and knowledge will influence the outcome.
Each community has its own identify and values.
Tourism works within a system.
The tourism system defines the rules for local tourism.
Developing a business is a process.
International standards play a significant role in product development and marketing.
Each agency on the team has a specific role to play in the development of the community-based tourism product.
Failure to learn the rules and to manage effectively and efficiently the process results in failure at the local and national levels.
Global competition for tourism business
The forces of globalization advocate the free movement of goods/services, capital and labour by opening up the world markets for trade.
Globalization has expanded global corporate reach and control.
The challenge is that the region now has to invest in meeting international standards.
Worldwide the hospitality industry is having difficulty attracting motivated and dynamic employees because of its image as primarily offering low pay, low status jobs, with long, demanding working hours and difficult working conditions.
Modern technology is rapidly changing the way business is conducted in travel and tourism. With the increasing use of computers by businesses to gain competitive advantage and the dramatic increase in the use of the Internet by travellers, tourism businesses have to invest in the new technologies and train their people in the use of these technologies to remain competitive.
The use of distance learning is revolutionizing campuses worldwide as, through the use of multiple technologies.
Special attention needs to be paid to addressing the human resources needs of small, medium and micro tourism businesses in the region which make up the bulk of the sector, and which are locally owned and managed for the most part..” (Morgan, CTO, 2001)