The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has teamed up with the George Washington University International Institute of Tourism Studies (GW IITS) to develop a recovery toolkit to provide a useful guide for small and medium-sized tourism enterprises as they plan for their reopening, and a dashboard for ministries and destination management organizations to capture and report on key recovery metrics.
Seleni Matus, executive director of the GW IITS, observed that: “The global pandemic has accelerated the importance of sound digital strategies for destinations and tourism enterprises. Consumers are increasingly turning to digital channels, as they have been more isolated and less mobile over the past several months.”
Matus continued: “With time spent online increasing, consumers have more time to look for travel inspiration. Tourism businesses that have established a strong digital presence are better positioned to remain top of mind as tourism begins to rebound.”
The toolkit covers areas such as the effective use of social media, use of online promotion platforms, how the optimize existing online presence and how to use online travel agencies effectively. It was designed to allow the small and medium tourism enterprises (SMTEs) to combine various solutions to ensure their businesses are ready when tourism returns to their destinations.
On the other hand, the dashboard comes with an associated guide that includes a number of data sources that CTO member governments can refer to, several of which are free to access. It is designed to support anyone who works within the travel and tourism industry, including businesses and tourism planners, in making strategic decisions more effectively.
Faye Gill, the CTO’s director of membership services, has worked closely with GW IITS in the production of these resources, and notes that: “In the Caribbean, where we are heavily reliant on tourism revenues, the COVID-19 pandemic is having a deep and sustained impact on our economies, lives and well-being. As the region continues through this extended recovery process, it is important for our member countries and tourism stakeholders to equip themselves with the tools they need to meet the challenge ahead.”
The collaboration between the CTO and GW IITS is an extension of an engagement with CTO member countries Belize and Grenada, which saw GWU Master of Tourism Administration and MBA students working with the government and private sector in both countries to produce customized solutions to support COVID recovery.
Two informational webinars have been organized to sensitize governments, as well as the SMTEs, on how the optimize the implementation and use of each resource. One of these workshops, entitled, Digital Toolkit for Tourism Enterprise Recovery, will be held on Tues., April 12 at 11:00 a.m. and is open to SMTEs and other stakeholders in CTO member countries.