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Caribbean tourism isn’t forecast to grow as much as its destinations would like over the next decade, and as many island destinations heed these warnings some are trying to become managers just as much as marketers to flaunt their islands abroad.

Caribbean tourism hasn’t been booming lately, as the region ranks 10 out of 12 in the world for GDP, the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) found. This is notable given the fact that tourism is one of the main drivers of most Caribbean economies, and Caribbean tourism is forecast to grow only 3.4% annually over the next 10 years.

The Dominican Republic ranked first this year in the absolute ranking of Resonance’s Caribbean Quality Tourism Report [embedded below]. The absolute ranking is based on the destinations with the greatest number of quality tourism products and experiences as evaluated by past visitors on social media.

The Dominican Republic’s ranking of first in the hotel and flights categories contributed to its placement. It was followed by Puerto Rico, Cuba, Jamaica and the Bahamas.

For the report’s indexed ranking, which looks at the most quality tourism products and experiences per visitor derived from social media interactions indexed against each destination’s actual visitor count, the Turks and Caicos Islands came in first.

Turks and Caicos ranked first for its outdoor and amusement experiences, and that contributed to it securing the top spot. Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago and Martinique follow Turks and Caicos on the leaderboard.

A focus on marketing, as reflected in the name destination marketing organization (DMO) may have been one of the factors contributing to the lack of flow of tourism dollars for some islands in recent years.

Some DMOs have added another letter: “M” for “Management.”

The Aruba Tourism Authority, for example, is a DMMO and an island making more commitments to the vacation products it offers as part of a trend of tourism authorities taking more responsibility for the quality of the guest experience in addition to marketing their destinations to the world.

“Tourism accounts for 84% of Aruba’s gross domestic product (GDP), and as a DMMO we recognize a renewed vision to attract our desired profile of visitors with an unparalleled vacation experience and value,” said Ronella Tjin Asjoe, CEO of the Aruba Tourism Authority. “Our evolution into a DMMO reflects our consumer-driven shift to ensure we’re consistently enhancing the quality of our product, from authentic local experiences to outstanding service throughout the island.”

As restrictions on American travel to Cuba become softer, more Americans are visiting the island and the report predicts as many as 10 million Americans could soon visit Cuba as more trade bans lift, though Canada is the island’s largest market.

Even Haiti makes a comeback, and though ravaged by an earthquake nearly five years ago, the island’s visitor numbers increased 20% in 2013, the second highest increase of any Caribbean island last year.

The islands attracted only 12 million visitors from the U.S., the Caribbean’s prime visitor market. Americans who are unwilling to leave the U.S. are one of the biggest inhibitors to the region’s growth, the report cites.

Absolute Ranking of Caribbean Destinations

Rank Country
1 Domincan Republic
2 Puerto Rico
3 Cuba
4 Jaimaica
5 Bahamas
6 Barbados
7 U.S. Virgin Islands
8 Aruba
9 Saint Lucia
10 Martinique

Indexed Ranking of Caribbean Destinations

Rank Country
1 Turks & Caicos Islands
2 Barbados
3 Trinidad & Tobago
4 Martinique
5 Anguilla
6 Bermuda
7 Saint Kitts & Nervis
8 Saint Vincent & the Grenadines
9 Grenada
10 Cuba

Source: Resonance

Download (PDF, 3.35MB)

Photo Credit: A beach in Turks and Caicos. Britt Reints / Flickr