November 27, 2021

Caribbean tourism sector must be run like a business – Apple Leisure CEO

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AlexZozayaFrom CaribPress

Zozaya said it was vital that the Caribbean promotes the unique attributes of each island, that is relevant to the consumer.

ST THOMAS, US Virgin Islands – Caribbean Tourism officials have been urged to ensure that tourism sector is run like a business.

The advice came Thursday in a keynote presentation by Alex Zozaya, CEO of Apple Leisure Group, the world’s largest provider of vacation business to the Caribbean.

Zozaya, who is also the founding President and CEO of AM Resorts told tourism officials that “their economies would be far stronger, if they could ignore the consequences of the political arena.”

“Be more pragmatic, more technical, use best practices and run your region like a business, once you do so it will result in prosperity for your people.

“Without having an objective to gain votes, you will need to gain well being, prosperity, get out of the comfort zone, people are no longer coming to you because you are pretty, that’s not good enough anymore as there are far more beautiful destinations in the world,” he told close to 300 delegates gathered at the Frenchman’s Reef Mariott hotel here.

Speaking on the theme, “Conceiving and Realising a Vision” Zozaya identified the continuing efforts of consecutive Governments to make the industry a haven for taxes as some of the key issues influencing the future of the industry.

He said while industry officials continually complain about taxes, it was vital that these funds are ploughed back into promoting infrastructure or other social benefits, so it can be considered an investment.

“This is what is happening with Governments. They are seeking to make more income, so they go increasing prices, when you apply additional taxes you continue to increase the price of your product, and customers no longer come, but go to the shop next door,” he said.

The hotel magnate, who has been among the most influential business people in Mexico said high taxed Caribbean destinations make them less competitive than others.

He said that while the taxes are largely paid not by the consumer, but by the airlines, hotels or service providers, it is the consumer who is asking why is the cost of his vacation growing all the time.

“So whether the entry fee is $20 or $100 varying from island to island, what matters most is that the consumer wants to go where he can get the most from his vacation that is costing him $1000,” he said.

Zozaya said it was vital that the Caribbean promotes the unique attributes of each island, that is relevant to the consumer.

“You cannot promote your island as being friendly but the moment the visitor arrives at the airport, he has an issue with a rude immigration officer, this has a reflection on the whole experience.

“Neither can you promote your destination as the cleanest or most natural place on earth if its not,” he cautioned.

He said that the cruise sector has largely bitten into the profits of the land based operators over the years, as there has been an overwhelming increase in the number of tourist cruising the region as opposed to those coming by air.

“The Cruise operators have done a great job capitalising on its growth and expansion,” he said.

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