Survey shows that Caribbean tourism needs more than beautiful beaches to thrive

Caribbean Competitiveness survey: beauty of beaches is no longer enough

Theodore Koumelis – 28 June 2013, 13:32

Caribbean islands attract 20 millions international tourists per year… but beyond dreams promoted in advertising campaigns, are they competitive in terms of visitors’ experience and quality of hospitality?


Based on its reference UNWTO endorsed global survey TRAVELSAT, TCI Research has evaluated the competitive strengths and weaknesses of the Caribbean destinations vs main rivals in the world: Indian Ocean, Mediterranean, Asia-Pacific, Latin America and Arabian Emirates.

Beyond beach beauty and diversity advocated by their visitors, Caribbean islands benefit from several assets related to the local people hospitality, leisure and nightlife, local food quality and shopping experience. However intentions to recommend and repeat visit remain lower in the region (minus 15 points vs competition). The gap is driven by a number of competitive weaknesses related to less tangible yet crucial criteria such as the feeling of security, the cleanliness or the urbanization development.

Commenting the results, TCI Research CEO Olivier Henry-Biabaud, comments: “Beyond central issues related to connectivity (cost to reach the destination, visas…), the global competition between "sun & beach" destinations is all a matter of consistency in quality perceived during the whole stay that can generate positive or negative word-of-mouth.

The multifaceted Caribbean region is made of diverse destinations facing different tourism challenges and it offers a competitive experience to its visitors on tangible elements (beaches, accommodation, food…). However some of them significantly suffer from a lack of competitiveness in more intangible criteria (environment, feeling of security, people hospitality…) raising issues they should address if they wish to build a more competitive and sustainable tourism…while emerging destinations like Dubai or Croatia sell a different “sun & beach” experience for attracting European markets. Some of these issues are mandatory to manage for attracting BRIC markets too”.

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