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Caribbean Tourism Organization chairman Dionisio D’Aguillar delivered the following speech at the opening of State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC):
This year’s State of the Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) comes at a trying time for Caribbean tourism.
Never in the history of the planning this event have situations, circumstances and conditions in our member destinations, and by extension, the Caribbean, changed so dramatically, so drastically, and so disturbingly in such a short space of time.
When planning began for SOTIC 2017, our realities were far different. None of us ever imagined that two hurricanes, Irma and Maria, would have had such a far-reaching and radical impact on our lives.
I wish to take this opportunity to express, on behalf of the entire CTO family, heartfelt condolences to the Governments and peoples of the countries impacted by those horrendous storms over the tragic loss of life and property, as well as the destruction of infrastructure.
The planning of SOTC began against the background of our challenge to grow our share of the world tourism market, which has held steady at 2.4 per cent despite record arrivals to the Caribbean.
Our emphasis was on how to keep pace with the latest trends and developments that make travel and tourism attractive, yet competitive. How technologies such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence and 360 influence travel; how we could develop a tourism product and experiences that are so outstanding that visitors take away much more than what they expected and immerse in experiences that they can get nowhere else; how, in essence, we could supercharge the Caribbean brand and make the region more appealing to the new explorer.
However, the monstrous category five hurricanes that so mercilessly battered some of our members last month have added new perspectives to our situation.