Rate this
3 (1 votes)
"Sector's revenue depends on 'Smile' tourism"
3 out of 5 based on 1 user ratings

"Sector's revenue depends on 'Smile' tourism"

Khadija Holder picThe tourism industry is adding new concepts to the recipe of sun, sea and sand, but Khadija Holder, 24, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Trinidad and Tobago, has discovered the importance of one surprising ingredient.

Tourism has become one of the major players in ‎international commerce and represents one of the primary income ‎sources for many developing countries, due to its contribution to economic growth, goods and services exports, employment and wellbeing, and other social and economic sectors (UNWTO).

Within the Caribbean context, the tourism sector has moved from traditional concepts of  ‘sun, sea and sand’ to modern models of education, ecology and health and wellness tourism driven by technology and traditional knowledge. However, with the exception of countries like the Dominican Republic where the number of tourist arrivals has seen recent growth, World Bank data for the past decade reports many Caribbean countries (e.g. Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia, Grenada) showing stagnation or decline in tourist arrivals. This has been influenced by effects of economic crises and the UK Air Passenger Duty Tax.

Recently, I decided to move to Medellin, Colombia, in order to learn Spanish and increase my understanding of the Latin American perspective, as my region is internationally recognised within development agendas as Latin America and the Caribbean. However, my experience thus far has granted me more. I’ve since attained a simple yet effective understanding of a subsector of tourism I now term ‘Smile Tourism’.

I, like many other tourists I have encountered, have found the Colombian smile (friendliness, culture and general compassion to assist) infectious and contagious. Tourists visiting Medellin appear to either eventually stay to live, extend their visit, or return at any opportunity they are able. For many, their rationale has been less influenced by the consumption of export services offered by the mountains, parks, museums, festivals or restaurants, and more so by the consumption of happiness and warmth exuded and shared by Colombians. Admittedly, despite the blaring similarities in warmth between the people of Medellin and the people of the very family-oriented and fun-loving Caribbean islands, I too have been bitten by the smile tourism bug of Medellin.

Upon further research, I found it interesting that despite negative media reports, tourist arrivals in Colombia have been steadily increasing since 2003 (with the exception of a decline in 2010). For tourists visiting or having visited Colombia, this seems unsurprising given the recurrent willingness to please demonstrated by goods and service providers across industry and financial level. For Colombians ‘a la orden’ (at your service) and ‘con gusto’ (with pleasure) appear to stem from natural tendencies and habits, but for tourists those simple phrases heard repetitively can communicate and foster gratification and felicity.

Thus, I now hold the view that while technology and new niches and forms of logic are critical to constantly develop the tourism industry and meet changing consumer habits, a constant remains – the human desire for happiness and belonging. Therefore, I have hypothesised the smile to indeed be a timeless requisite for all tourism-based economies. To be truly effective however, security must not become a greater concern than happiness.

photo credit: still happy via photopin (license)

…………………………………………………………………

About me:

Discovering my great passion and ambition to advocate for global progress through research-writing stands as one of my most fulfilling attainments to date. I am currently a Research Fellow at the Caribbean Centre for Research on Trade and Development (CCRTD), a Research Consultant for JDR Research Solutions Barbados, a Researcher at Athens Development and am becoming internationally certified in Spanish and French. In my spare time I engage in volunteerism through organizations such as Junior Achievement.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response.
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

 

Comments

comments

Powered by Facebook Comments