The Caribbean could be losing billions of dollars in tourism revenue by not fully harvesting the enormous value of diverse markets in North America and beyond.
Historically underrepresented African American, Asian American, Caribbean American, Hispanic American and other markets present a wealth of opportunity to reap rewards for the region, and 2023 is a good time to refocus on the growing demand for a Caribbean travel experience among these populations and meeting their expectations once they arrive on our shores.
Tourism stakeholders have observed that much of the region’s economic activity during the pandemic and beyond can be attributed to African American travelers.
Black Americans spent an estimated US$129.6 billion on domestic and international leisure travel in 2019, according to a survey created by MMGY Travel Intelligence on behalf of Black travel advocacy organizations.
U.S. Hispanics, the fastest growing demographic in the United States, spent US$113.9 billion on domestic leisure travel in 2019 and accounted for 13% of all domestic leisure travel that year, according to MMGY.
Diversity is part of the North American landscape and destinations ought to regularly include diverse imagery in their advertising and develop communications strategies that resonate with these important communities.
The Caribbean is replete with cultural touchpoints that make diverse travelers feel at home, but we must work harder to ensure they receive the same hospitable treatment accorded to our traditional visitors. Elevating our customer service levels across the board must be a top priority in 2023 if we are to compete with tourism destinations around the world.
It is time to get serious about demographics and psychographics vis-à-vis emerging markets, which also includes the upwardly mobile and influential South Asian community, whose purchasing power and love for Caribbean travel are strong and growing.
Smart, culturally sensitive strategies are needed to allow us to grasp the new opportunities that are within our reach.
The U.S. Travel Association and Tourism Diversity Matters announced a new strategic partnership that will strengthen the association’s focus and support of the industry on issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and provide greater access to Tourism Diversity Matters’ subject matter expertise, research, and resources.
Tourism Diversity Matters was founded in 2021 to address blind spots in ethnic disparities within the tourism and events industry while providing these industry leaders with resources and tactics to develop more effective DEI strategies to engage, recruit and retain a diverse workforce. DEI is a core priority of the U.S. Travel Association, which is committed to having a vital role in affecting lasting change and supporting the development of industrywide DEI plans.
The partnership will be key to advancing workforce development issues and federal policy initiatives that support travel’s recovery.
“A key goal of Tourism Diversity Matters is to affiliate with industry partners such as U.S. Travel Association to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion solutions that will benefit the tourism and events industry as a whole,” said Greg DeShields, Executive Director of Tourism Diversity Matters. “We welcome this new partnership and look forward to the positive impact that will come from our work together.”
Tourism Diversity Matters has also partnered with Temple University’s School of Sport, Tourism, and Hospitality Management and San Diego State University’s L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality and Tourism Management to conduct academic research and facilitate workforce development.
“U.S. Travel Association has a clear vision: in working closely with Tourism Diversity Matters, we aim to help the travel sector achieve a truly diverse, equitable, and inclusive industry for all,” said Roger Dow, president and CEO, U.S. Travel Association and board member, Tourism Diversity Matters. “Aligning with Tourism Diversity Matters is a great step toward this pursuit that will enrich U.S. Travel’s membership for years to come.”
In addition to Dow, Carnival Cruise Line President and U.S. Travel Association National Chair Christine Duffy is also a member of Tourism Diversity Matters’ board of directors, whose board is led by chairman Elliott Ferguson, immediate past chair of U.S. Travel.
“Diversity strengthens organizations by bringing new ideas and perspectives to the forefront,” said Contina Djaouga, vice president of finance at, the U.S. Travel Association, and head of the association’s internal DEI committee. “Tourism Diversity Matters provides the resources for our industry to take meaningful action to build an inclusive workforce that better represents our country’s diverse population.”