Lynden Pindling International Airport, Nassau, The Bahamas
Many countries in the Caribbean trade on our natural resources - from beautiful beaches, blue skies and warm waters to oil. Fortunately, for those that trade on their beauty, according to the World Tourism Organization, the business volume of tourism equals or even surpasses that of oil exports, food products or automobiles. However, the value of this contribution depends on the quality and diversity of the product and there is an increasing amount of competition between destinations.
Collectively and as individual countries, our destination brands are based on tangible assets. Developing a sustainable strategy to attract tourists and investments, for that matter, means diversifying the brand with intangibles that are important to a global audience.
A holistic approach to destination branding requires a departure from the way in which most policy makers think and how they operate. If policy makers operated with the core principles of design thinking they would be empathetic to the needs of the end users, open to diverse ways of thinking and engagement within multi-disciplinary teams and there would be an ideation process to put ideas forward.
Building a sustainable destination brand requires understanding the integration of multiple sectors from tourism to finance and the shared needs of the people who represent the ability of those sectors to generate revenue. Whether a visitor or a company considering making an investment, the destinations that are the most attractive possess traditional features like modern infrastructure, safe environments and skilled labour. Increasingly emotional and social attributes can weigh heavily in the decision making process. Destinations that project authenticity and deliver with amenities including creative or cultural experiences like diverse restaurants, lectures, heritage sites, theatre, music and museums are in the best position for differentiation.
Ironically, the type of amenities that a destination provides can build a positive perception that transfers to other areas of government. That is, it leverages a correlation between those amenities and transparency, a willingness to embrace new ideas and to build partnerships.