Tobago: A Model for Cruise Tourism

Go Lean Commentary

The Caribbean is composed of 30 member-states: countries, territories, and commonwealths. There are a lot of differences (5 colonial legacies, 4 different languages – even more dialects), and yet just one economy…primarily. The economic driver for most of the region is focused first on tourism.

This is good!

  • Non-renewal resources are not exhausted, exploited or consumed.

This is bad!

  • The mono-industrial reality overly depends on the prosperity of foreign countries.

It is what it is!

The book Go Lean…Caribbean addresses the economic needs of all the Caribbean, including the dimensions of the tourism sector. There are two options for visiting the Caribbean: stay-overs and cruises.

CU Blog - Tobago - A Model for Cruise Tourism - Photo 2

Scarborough, Tobago

CU Blog - Tobago - A Model for Cruise Tourism - Photo 1

Beach scene on Tobago

From a strictly economic consideration, stay-overs are preferred. The visitors consume more of the local culture and spend more monies on amenities like hotels, taxis, restaurants, shopping and excursions. On the other hand, cruise passengers consume most of these amenities onboard the ships, with just spin-off revenues to the local port cities.

CU Blog - Tobago - A Model for Cruise Tourism - Photo 3The experience of tourism in the Caribbean is that there has been a sea-change since 2008; the crisis of the Great Recession deeply impacted the region as prosperity in the foreign countries – source markets – became spurious. Yes, the high-end tourist resorts have flourished since the Great Recession, but properties catering to the general middle class have floundered. The one exception being the emergence of the cruise industry as a viable vacation option for the general American population. The CU therefore plans to empower the industry directly, and to elevate the cruise industry’s impact on Caribbean society.

Plus, cruise lines are an effective way to introduce and grow a tourism product “from scratch”. This is the model for the island of Tobago, the secondary island (population of 62,000) in the federated Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Tobago’s main economy is based on tourism, fishing, and government spending, with government spending being the largest; (the local governing body – the Tobago House of Assembly – employs 62% of the labor force). Tourism is still a fledgling industry on the island and needs to be further developed. There are no casinos, just two golf courses, and perhaps just one hotel classified among the Caribbean resort-variety; but the island boast great eco-tourism opportunities.

See this article here referring to the pending expansion of cruise operations to Tobago:

1. Title: More on Carnival’s Tobago Plans
By: The Caribbean Journal staff; retrieved from:  

Carnival Cruise Lines has already announced its plans to visit Tobago next year, and now the company has revealed more information on its schedule.

The cruise line began visiting Tobago in February 2015, part of a longer itinerary that includes St Maarten, Dominica, Barbados, Scarborough, Grenada, Martinique, St Kitts and St Thomas.

“Based on feedback from our guests and travel agent partners, we’re delighted to offer these longer length voyages which provide vacationers an opportunity to visit some of the world’s most breathtaking destinations while enjoying all the wonderful on-board innovations and features found aboard Carnival’s ships,” said Terry Thornton, senior vice president of itinerary planning at Carnival.

The cruise line’s arrival will bring an estimated 10,642 Carnival passengers to the island next year.

VIDEO: Top 5 Beaches of Tobago –

Published on Dec 22, 2014 – Check out Tobago’s Top 5 Beaches as listed in the 2014 Tobago International Cycling Classic show which aired on ESPN in November. Tobago is one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean and it’s many beaches is one of the reasons.

The Go Lean book posits that this strategy is not enough; it is deficient to support a growing economy; to state better: an economy that should be growing. In general, the Caribbean economy is in crisis. Communities that are too dependent on tourism have suffered since 2008, directly and indirectly. Directly, the communities are deriving fewer returns from the tourism investments, especially where cruise operations are concerned. Indirectly, the crisis has driven many young ones to flee the region, setting their sights on foreign shores as the destination for their dreams and aspirations.

While Tobago is looking to expand its cruise traffic, as a way to springboard its nascent tourist industry, other communities are looking at ways to expand the yield from the existing cruise tourist traffic.

Consider this second news article here relating the efforts in Jamaica (and elsewhere) to increase the per-passenger average “spend” amounts:

2. Title: Jamaica unhappy with cruise pax spending
By: Gay Nagle Myers; Travel Weekly Magazine – Industry Periodical – Posted September 25, 2012; retrieved 03/18/2015 –

Jamaica’s cruise numbers saw solid growth last year, but tourism authorities there are not pleased with the level of per-passenger spending, which trails most other major cruise destinations in the Caribbean.

CU Blog - Tobago - A Model for Cruise Tourism - Photo 4Data about Jamaica’s cruise industry are contained in the recently released Annual Travel Statistics 2011, a hefty document published by the Jamaica Tourist Board that examines all facets of visitor arrivals, hotel occupancy by room size category and visitor expenditure.

Tourism data were compiled from embarkation/disembarkation cards filled out by visitors arriving by air and by exit surveys at the airports and at cruise ship piers.

Data on cruise ship arrivals were obtained from the ships’ manifests.

In many instances, the current figures are compared to figures for the years since 2007 to illustrate how well or poorly certain tourism segments are faring.

Jamaica had solid cruise growth in 2011, welcoming more than 1.1 million passengers, a jump of 23.7% over 2010.

The main contributing factor to the turnaround in passenger arrivals was the opening of the Falmouth pier in Trelawny in February 2011.

In the 11 months that followed, the port of Falmouth hosted 110 cruise ship calls and was the entry point for 456,442 cruise ship passengers, or 40.6% of all passengers arriving in Jamaica. That included 21 calls by Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas, accounting for 125,023 passengers.

The port of Ocho Rios, which in the past provided the largest share of Jamaica’s cruise arrivals, accounted for 417,520 of total cruise passengers in 2011, or 37.1%.

The port of Montego Bay accounted for 250,491 passengers, or 22.3%. The problem lies in how much those passengers spent in their ports of arrival. Overall gross visitor expenditure in 2011 was estimated at just over $2 billion, an increase of just 0.4% over 2010.

Foreign visitors arriving by air spent $1.85 billion, while cruise passenger spend totaled $80 million, and nonresident Jamaicans visiting friends and family contributed $76 million.

This means that the average tourist on holiday spent $115.74 per person per night, while cruise passengers strolling the streets of Falmouth or the vendor stalls in Montego Bay spent just $71.27.

The level of cruise passenger spend is not sitting well with tourism officials. It represents a drop of 20%, or $16 per passenger, the lowest in 10 years, according to the JTB annual report.

This is a disappointing payback following the opening of the much-touted Falmouth pier.

William Tatham, vice president of the Port Authority of Jamaica, said tourism officials would like to see a 70% jump in the cruise spend per passenger, to $120 per person, in the coming cruise season.

That goal could be realized with the opening of Margaritaville Falmouth at the cruise pier later this year.

The planned $7 million, 17,000-square-foot attraction will include a pirate ship with a pool and water slide, a zipline and a Jacuzzi right on the dock, according to Ian Dear, CEO of Island Entertainment Brands, which operates 27 Margaritaville venues, four of them in Jamaica.

Even if Jamaica should reach its goal of passengers spending $120 a day, the island still will trail the Bahamas and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Caribbean’s two top-volume cruise ports, when it comes to per-passenger spend.

CU Blog - Tobago - A Model for Cruise Tourism - Photo 5The Bahamas welcomed 4.1 million cruise passengers in 2011, up 9.4% from the 3.8 million it welcomed in 2010.

The average spend of a Bahamas cruise passenger in 2012 is $111, up from $73 in 2011, according to Carla Stuart, director of cruise development for the Ministry of Tourism.

“The Bahamas remains the leader in the cruise industry in the region,” Stuart said. “For the first quarter of 2012, we saw more than an 11% increase in cruise arrivals compared to the same period in 2011. We expect this growth will continue throughout the year, bringing in significant revenue to small businesses and individuals employed directly and indirectly in the tourism sector.”

The USVI cruise numbers stood at 2 million in 2011, up 8.1% from 1.8 million in 2010, putting it third in cruise volume in the Caribbean region. (If Cozumel, Mexico, an island port in the Western Caribbean off Mexico’s Riviera Maya region, is factored into the Caribbean cruise data, it actually outranks the USVI with 2.8 million cruise arrivals in 2011, down 1.4% from the 2.9 million in 2010.)

Passengers disembarking in St. Thomas and St. Croix outspent those in Nassau and Freeport, Bahamas last year, dropping $156 per person on duty-free items, island tours, banana daiquiris at Mountaintop in St. Thomas or Buck Island snorkeling tours in St. Croix.

However, the 2011 figure fell from the 2010 figure of an average spend of $167 per cruise passenger, according to the Department of Tourism.

Projected cruise passenger spend for the U.S. Virgin Islands during the 2012-2013 cruise season is $165 per person.

The Caribbean region needs to focus on growing the economy and creating jobs. The Go Lean book asserts that this effort is too big a task for any one Caribbean member-state alone, that Jamaica, Tobago and other port cities need to convene, confederate and collaborate with the other regional member-states. As such, the Go Lean book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of the technocratic Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU), for the elevation of Caribbean society – for all member-states including Tobago. This CU/Go Lean roadmap has these 3 prime directives:

  • Optimization of the economic engines in order to grow the regional economy to $800 Billion and create 2.2 million new jobs.
  • Establishment of a security apparatus to protect the resultant economic engines.
  • Improvement of Caribbean governance – including local government – to support these engines.

The Go Lean book (Page 193 – 10 Ways to Impact Cruise Tourism) makes this simple assertion that the unification of the region into a Single Market will allow for collective bargaining with the cruise industry; no one nation-state would have the clout of a unified market. The industry needs the Caribbean more than the Caribbean needs the industry. The ports-of-calls need to be able to generate more revenue from the visiting passengers, but the cruise line have embedded rules/regulations designed to maximize their revenues at the expense of the port-side establishments. There is a better way!

Yet still, the strategies and tactics of the Go Lean roadmap are not to be contrarian for the region’s business stakeholders, but rather to promote and facilitate more business options, even for the cruise lines – we are cheerleaders. The cruise lines will have a partner in this Trade Federation for facilitating the best Caribbean experience for their passengers. We want to make the Caribbean better … to live, work and play for visitors and residents alike. And when something goes awry, the CU’s Emergency protocols will be engaged to facilitate a quick recovery.

A win-win…

The book stresses (early at Page 11 & 14) the need to be on-guard for opportunities to expand cruise industry performance in these pronouncements in the Declaration of Interdependence:

iv.  Whereas the natural formation of the landmass is in a tropical region, the flora and fauna allows for an inherent beauty that is enviable to peoples near and far. The structures must be strenuously guarded to protect and promote sustainable systems of commerce paramount to this reality.

xxvi.  Whereas the Caribbean region must have new jobs to empower the engines of the economy and create the income sources for prosperity, and encourage the next generation to forge their dreams right at home, the Federation must therefore foster the development of new industries, like that of ship-building, automobile manufacturing, prefabricated housing, frozen foods, pipelines, call centers, and the prison industrial complex. In addition, the Federation must invigorate the enterprises related to existing industries like tourism, fisheries and lotteries – impacting the region with more jobs.

This commentary previously related details of Caribbean tourism dynamics and the region’s own job-creation efforts. Here is a sample of earlier blogs: State of Aruba’s Mono-Industrial Economy The African Renaissance  Monument – Model for Art Tourism The Bahamas missed tourism marketing in New York due to the New York Times focus on immigration dysfunction. Trinidad cuts budget as oil prices tumble – Perils of a mono-industrial economy. Disney World – Role Model for Touristic Self-Governing Entities More Business Travelers Flock to Airbnb Bad Model – Hotels making billions from Resort Fees Casinos Changing/Failing Business Model for Tourism activities The Future of Golf; Vital for Tourism, but failing badly Florida’s Snowbirds Chilly Welcome – Bad Model for managing a great demographic and market potential. 10 Things We Want from the US – #2: Tourists The Erosion of the Middle Class Tourism’s changing profile

The Go Lean book and accompanying blogs posit that for the Caribbean tourism is undergoing change due to … a changing world:

“If we do what we have always done, we will no longer get what we always got”.

The world is now considered flat, because it is digital and connected. The region must explore all the marketing opportunities there-in. This is the charge of the Go Lean…Caribbean roadmap, to do the heavy-lifting, to implement the organizational dynamics to optimize Caribbean tourism here and now. The following are the community ethos, strategies, tactics, implementations and operational advocacies to effectuate this goal:

Community Ethos – People Respond to Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Economic Systems Influences Choices & Incentives Page 21
Community Ethos – Job Multiplier Page 22
Community Ethos – Lean Operations Page 24
Community Ethos – Ways to Improve Negotiations – Cruise Collective Bargaining Page 32
Community Ethos – Ways to Impact the Greater Good Page 37
Strategy – Vision – Make the Caribbean the Best Address on Planet Page 45
Strategy – Mission – Facilitate transportation options for passengers and cargo Page 46
Strategy – Agents of Change – Technology Page 57
Strategy – Agents of Change – Globalization Page 57
Anecdote – Carnival Corporation Strategy Report Page 61
Tactical – Separation of Powers – Tourism Promotion and Administration Page 78
Implementation – Assemble Regional Organs Page 95
Implementation – Ways to Deliver Page 109
Implementation – Ways to Impact Social Media – Tourism Outreach Page 111
Implementation – Ways to Benefit from Globalization Page 119
Implementation – Ways to Promote Independence Page 120
Planning – 10 Big Ideas for the Caribbean – Confederate to Single Market Page 127
Planning – Ways to Improve Trade Page 128
Planning – Lessons Learned from 2008 Page 136
Advocacy – Ways to Grow the Economy Page 151
Advocacy – Ways to Create Jobs Page 152
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Governance Page 168
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Local Governance – Help communities like Tobago Page 169
Advocacy – Ways to Reduce & Mitigate Crime – Against Tourist Protected Class Page 178
Advocacy – Ways to Enhance Tourism – Regional promotion and facilitation Page 190
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Cruise Tourism – 10 specific steps/actions for improvement Page 193
Advocacy – Ways to Improve Transportation – More efficiency in moving people Page 205
Advocacy – Ways to Preserve Caribbean Heritage … and Culture Page 218
Advocacy – Ways to Impact Trinidad & Tobago – More can be done Page 240
Appendix – Lessons Learned – Trinidad & Tobago – Floating the T&T Dollar Page 316

Cruising in the Caribbean is a great experience; we must grow this business. Staying-over in the Caribbean is even better, allowing more time to enjoy sun, sand, sea, surf, savor, salsa and smoke; (savor as in foods; salsa as in dance and smoke as in cigars). We can definitely grow this business with more technocratic deliveries. The Go Lean book provides 370 pages of turn-by-turn directions on how to accomplish this grandiose goal.

Now is the time for all of the Caribbean – the people, business and governing institutions – to lean-in to this Go Lean … Caribbean roadmap. This plan is conceivable, believable and achievable to make the region better places to live work and play. 🙂

Download the book Go Lean … Caribbean – now!

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