Skip to content

9 Practical Keys to Building a More Sustainable Tourism Industry

A Look at the Caribbean

sustainable tourism

Sustainable tourism is a buzzword touted around worldwide, and the Caribbean is no exception. But who really benefits from sustainable tourism? And is it real sustainable tourism or just talk?

Real sustainable tourism cannot take place without people at the centre. And while we could spend energy and time laying blame for the stunted development of sustainable tourism in the region, at times, it is useful not to point a finger, but to look within for solutions. This article attempts to do just that. Here are 9 keys to building a more sustainable tourism industry.

Key #1 – Invest in Talent

First and foremost is talent. Invest in Talent.  Sandals is a great example of this.  Most of Sandals’ top management are Caribbean and Sandals has its own University. 

But more investment in industry education and training of top managers are needed (locally-sourced general managers, human resources and financial management could easily add 10% local content).

Graduation Ceremony – University of the West Indies

Key #2 – Facilitate Linkages

Facilitate more links between farmers, fisherfolk and the hotel industry to encourage/allow farmers to produce what hotel needs rather than mono-crops such as bananas for export. The Grenada Silver Sands Resort and the GRENROP Women’s cooperative in Grenada is a brilliant example of this.

Farmers in Jamaica Benefit from linkages with hotels through the Jamaica Linkages Network Initiative

Key #3 – Deliver Efficient Transport

Deliver more efficient transport links among Caribbean islands to allow specialisation, division of labour and exports.

Grenada Inter-Island Ferry – The Osprey

Key #4 – Boost the Services Sector

Look for linkages in the non-polluting services sector – insurance, banking and financial services, education and training, IT, marketing and social media, health and wellness, etc.

The Services Sector is growing in the Caribbean – with Barbados (89% of GDP), Trinidad and Tobago (72% of GDP), and Jamaica (60% of GDP) leading the way.

Key #5 – Innovate

Non-all-inclusive tourist accommodation establishments need more innovation – they need to forget about offering a hotel, villa or guest house, and focus on delivering an unforgettable experience, creating, orchestrating and delivering memorable experiences.

Jamaica is the Only Caribbean Country that performed above expected in terms of innovation according to the World Intellectual Property Organization, 2020. Jamaica ranked 72nd globally and 21st within the middle-income country category.

Key #6 – Focus on Experiences

The tourism sector needs to see beyond accommodation and focus on orchestrating exceptional experiences. Hotels and resorts need to see beyond their 4 walls; they need to re-imagine their offering and forge exceptional linkages with local suppliers and entrepreneurs and their local environment – the ultimate key components of exceptional experiences. Ti Kaye in St. Lucia closes its restaurant on a Friday and encourages its guests to eat at the local Fish Festival at Anse La Raye.

Locals and visitors enjoy a cultural experience at Anse La Raye Fish Friday, St. Lucia

Key #7 – Go Beyond Standards

Go beyond traditional standards – we need to move beyond traditional star categories (fighting for 4- and 5- star recognition) and go beyond with regard to unique environmental standards, standards for women, workers and communities that ‘go beyond the ordinary’.

Key #8 – Develop Creative Cuisine

Develop more creative cuisine, using locally-sourced and organic ingredients. This will go a long way in adding value and growing local linkages.  The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association has initiatives in this regard.  But we need more.  Creative Vegan and Vegetarian cuisine are needed as well as creative uses of local produce – from dasheen and plantains to essential oils, coconuts and avocadoes.

The Menu at Secret Bay, Dominica celebrates local cuisine in style and with a story! 

Vegan Callaloo Sushi served at Leve – the ‘Live the Caribbean’ Event, on location at Villa Being, Tobago from Trinidad Chef Xenon
Lobster Souse Shots, served at Leve – the ‘Live the Caribbean’ Event, on location at Villa Being, Tobago form Barbados Chef Cumberbatch

Key #9 – Grow the Creative Sectors

Focus on the naturally creative Exceptional Caribbean Economy – fashion, fine foods, fine art, culture, entertainment, and more! This is exactly what Leve-Global started at Leve – the ‘Live the Caribbean’ event in Tobago.

Andrew Ramroop
Saville Row, bespoke tailor, Sir Andrew Ramroop, OBE, features his quintessential tailoring at Leve – the ‘Live the Caribbean’ Event, on location at Villa Being, Tobago

As you can see, the centre of these 9 strategies are people. People are the real beneficiaries of sustainable tourism development. They are also the catalyst that will drive sustainable tourism forward. Without talent, innovation, the creative sectors and real partnerships (all people centred) true sustainable tourism development cannot take place. 


Dr.  Auliana Poon

auliana poon leve image

Dr. Auliana Poon is the founder and Managing Director of Leve Global and Exceptional Caribbean.


Auliana loves the Caribbean and believes in its people. Her personal mission is to change the world; to transform our societies. And this is precisely why she has spearheaded Exceptional Caribbean – a continuing mission to elevate tourism, trade and lives.

Here are Related Articles That Might Interest You


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *