- Do you think that the Caribbean are a good option for creative travellers? Why?
Yes, I strongly believe that the Caribbean is an option for creative travellers. The Caribbean is a very diverse region with strong influences from Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle-East. This has had a great impact on all the flavours of the Caribbean, which is evident in our food, music, creative or performing arts. There are so many events taking place across the Caribbean throughout the year, music, arts, literary, food and cultural festivals!
- And is the creative tourism a good option for the Caribbean destinations?
Creative tourism is an excellent option for the Caribbean, first of all creativity transcends seasonality, and with so many of the events taking place right across the year, it reduces the need for visitor to converge on a destination during specific periods and instead provides multiple reasons for travellers to visit year round – thus contributing to the sustainable development of a destination/region. Creative tourism also provides a platform for communities to preserve, showcase and share their heritage. Creative tourism also provides entrepreneurial opportunities for women and youth in particular thus providing the opportunity for them to develop skills that can generate an income and support inclusivity within communities. To a larger extent creative tourism also embraces both cultural and adventure tourism and these niches allow destinations to stand out in a very cluttered market; and to position their brand and experiences more uniquely as creative tourism promotes the many indigenous art forms that cannot be ‘copied’ authentically.
Travellers are far more ‘switched on’ and have the technology at their fingertips to research and plan experiences way in advance. They are seeking authentic experiences that provide a lifetime of memories and conjure up bragging rights as they have moved beyond the scope of ‘man made’ experiences, but instead have been able to experience a unique form of tourism that embraces the history, culture, and values of people that has transcended technology and commercialism. The more authentic a destination can keep their experiences, the more creative will be the experiential brand positioning.
- Which creative experiences would you have in mind?
I encourage visitors to the Caribbean to visit local galleries, whether they are nationally or privately owned, and explore the local creative arts scene. Also the old plantation houses and rum factories, are steeped in history and the story telling behind each one is fascinating, not to mention the techniques used to create some of the finest runs and liqueurs in the World. Performing arts in Caribbean does not receive nearly as much visibility as it should, local organizations are hosting numerous creative dancing, theatrical and musical performances throughout the year, particularly around independence and carnival celebrations. There are also many literary, food and drink festivals which showcase the culinary creativity of the region. Many communities also produce stunning handmade garments from crochet, knitting, tie-dye and batik which reflect the colour and vibrancy of the Caribbean; and it is no secret that some of the world’s greatest musicians including the likes of Bob Marley and Rihanna hail from the Caribbean!
- Does that mean that it be a way for them to differentiate through their cultural heritage?
Absolutely, creativity has most certainly allowed the Caribbean as a region to differentiate through cultural heritage, people visit the Caribbean expecting a uniqueness, that they do not believe can be found anywhere else! A great deal of more investments and development of human resources is required to facilitate more communities in developing their creativity and to provide income generating opportunities, unique experiences for visitors, and a tourism product that impacts positively on the community, environment and economy. Most importantly creative tourism is a key driver in the preservation of cultural heritage, and as long as communities benefit positively, they will want to continue to preserve and share their heritage for generations to come.
- Who or what do you think are the essential stakeholders and conditions to achieve such a kind of program at a destination level?
Investment and capacity development is key. Communities may have the skills or ‘raw talent’; but expertise is required to enable the communities to deliver and sustain their creativity at the highest level. Creativity is not new – it has been around since the beginning of time and continues to evolve – but communities need to be sustainable, and therefore public and private collaboration, along with community involvment is required to develop creative tourism. Creative tourism should be available to all visitors to a destination, so it is important for all stakeholders in the accommodation sector to embrace the creativity of a destination and facilitate participation through cultural and creative networking.
- Related to this interview:
Carol Hay. Biography:
Carol Hay has over 25 years in the tourism sector, her primary areas of expertise include marketing, destination branding, product development, sustainable tourism development, public relations, crisis management and social media. Carol is currently Director of Marketing UK & Europe for the Caribbean Tourism Organization, a position she has held for the past 7 years. Previously she was the Director of Tourism UK & Europe for the Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority.
Carol has also held senior positions with The Jamaica Tourist Board, BWIA International Airways and the Jamaica Promotions Corporation. She is an accomplished speaker and has addressed audiences across the globe on female leadership, destination branding and competitiveness.
She holds a Masters in Marketing, Bachelors in Business Administration and numerous professional qualifications including Cultural Diplomacy, Public Relations, Human Resources Development, Coaching, Mentoring and Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP).
In her spare time Carol coaches and mentors professional women and young people, and also volunteers to support young people preparing for work. She loves to travel, cook, meet new people and generally make the most of life!