September 27 is recognized around the world as World Tourism Day and this year’s theme is ‘Tourism and Jobs: A better Future for All’. Because of its many touch points, tourism is one of the most labour intensive industries in the world, with the Caribbean being the most tourism-dependent region on the planet. There is an abundance of business opportunities, both direct and indirect, that are available to local entrepreneurs in any given destination: from tour and travel services, restaurants, accommodation, arts and craft and retail to financial services, engineering, construction and sites and attractions management, to name a few.
The World Tourism Organization highlights the fact that the tourism sector’s contribution to job creation is specifically recognized in Goal 8 of the Sustainable Development Goals, part of which states: “By 2030, devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism that creates jobs and promotes local culture and products”.
As noted by the Acting Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), tourism is the main engine of economic growth for the region, with just under 60 million stayover and cruise travelers visiting the Caribbean in 2018, and generating approximately US$39.3 billion in revenue for the local economies.
Montserrat is poised to re-visit its halcyon days as a unique and attractive vacation option for the discerning traveler and the theme and focus of World Tourism Day on jobs and a better future is certainly timely and relevant. The Tourism Division is about to roll-out a series of projects that will see the enhancement of the island’s beach facilities and hiking trails, as part of the efforts to ensure that our physical product meets or exceeds international standards. Its signature project would be the establishment of a Volcano Interpretive Centre, which will provide an interactive experience for visitors to understand the impact that the Soufriere Hills Volcano has had on the island for the last almost 25 years. These projects would provide employment opportunities at the implementation stage, and upon completion, would give a range of service providers improved amenities and facilities around the island to share with visitors to Montserrat.
The Tourism Division encourages all of our stakeholders to expand and diversify their product offerings and to increase their standards of service delivery, so that today’s visitors would want not only to continue returning to Montserrat, but would also talk about their positive experiences with family and friends; encouraging them to consider planning a vacation here.
Like Montserrat, the tourism industry has proven to be extremely resilient. Following the global economic crisis of 2010, the number of worldwide international tourist arrivals grew at 4% or above on an annual basis. Montserrat itself has experienced a 2% increase in visitor arrivals for the first half of 2019 over the same period last year. The Tourism Division will be working collaboratively with entities such as the National Trust, the Montserrat Arts Council and the Department of Environment to ensure that future growth of the tourism sector is done in a sustainable manner. We look forward to being able to support our stakeholders by implementing programmes and strategies that would help to generate increased business opportunities.