For a lot of Caribbean countries, tourism is one of the largest contributors to their gross domestic product. But, in some countries like Trinidad & Tobago, this industry has not been at its strongest. In fact, it's an industry that can always use some support to create greater appeal for certain.
Instagram is critical to developing a stronger tourism industry in the Caribbean. After all, showing international audiences how beautiful our islands are is kind of the point, and what better platform for incredible photo and video of the gorgeous attractions of each Caribbean country.
Profiles like Caribbean Travel are a perfect example of making Caribbean locales seem both accessible and alluring. Some places, like Montreal and even Curacao, have taken matters into their own hands, using Instagram to raise awareness. The key to success here is not to try to sell tours and attractions, but to sincerely reveal aspects of each destination’s unique beauty, culture and charm. Not only would that prevent the average follower from thinking it’s nothing more than an ad, but actually opens up a lot more possibilities for the kinds of attractions to highlight – attractions that might not be on a tourism industry’s radar.
Travel bloggers and influencers are also a valuable part of a social media strategy to make a country’s tourism industry more attractive. The point isn’t only to have people to notice how beautiful the Caribbean is; the point is for them to come here! Hiring influencers to travel to our shores and document their experiences and adventures is just what it would take to get folks pumped to come themselves. And it’s even more of that human touch that makes a Caribbean vacation seem accessible to someone who wouldn’t think about it otherwise.
A funny Instagram story featuring a local bus driver, a shot of a funny sign outside a bar or restaurant, all those things make a place feel like not just a tourist spot, but an interesting place to be even if you don’t make it to the beach or waterfalls. It’s also a great idea to get those influencers to highlight specific lesser-known attractions about Caribbean life. Like RumShopRyan, who’s focus at first was just the various alcoholic beverages that each island has to offer. Everyone’s seen photos of the beach and our various delicacies. But what about a dance fitness influencer coming to learn Caribbean dance styles? Or a well-known actor doing a local play? With a little imagination, anything can be a hook for social media followers stumbling onto their next getaway destination.
The next step might very well be to partner with tourism stakeholders, like airlines and event promoters, to create more holistic promotion ventures. We’ve spoken in the past about how Caribbean Airlines as a brand has marketed their services parallel to tourist attractions like regional music festivals and Carnival events. Whether it’s the government of a Caribbean country undertaking this venture or a restaurant or hotel, it would be worth it to partner with other hospitality brands to make sure that visiting influencers have as great an experience as is possible (and take all the pictures they can). In fact, why not make it a government-run package? For influencers who bid for the spot or meet particular criteria, they get access to certain hotels and restaurants, get tours of specific heritage sites and vistas, and tell all their followers and fans about it.
Of course, all of this is a unique venture for Caribbean governments or large brands to spend money on, for the future of the tourism industry. But, if they do, then it could transform not only how people see our beautiful Caribbean islands, but how social media personalities both in and out of the Caribbean make a name for themselves and create more interesting stories about these islands we call home. What do you think? What other ways can you think of for social media to work hand-in-hand with our tourism sector?