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From Bevan Springer
New York Amsterdam News

NEW YORK (August 9, 2012) – Last week we looked at the importance of Caribbean tourism leaders building robust aerial highways between places like Dubai and New York to tap into the oil-rich Middle East, and upscale Asian travel markets.

The global tourism industry, according to Agence France Press, is gearing up for a projected boom in Muslim travel over the next decade. And, it’s a trend which is gathering pace.

Spending in this market is growing faster than the global rate and is forecast to reach US $192 billion a year by 2020, up from $126 billion in 2011.

Non-Islamic countries are taking a serious look at Muslims on the move, and it’s time we in Caribbean tourism overcame our prejudices and fears to courageously tap unconventional markets, like Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

And, if we don’t know how, you know there will be a West Indian living in these remote locations willing to lend a helping hand. Yes, there is a Caribbean person in every country of the world!

There are also many in the region who have solid relationships in these faraway lands, and who can provide the tourism community with counsel on matters such as cuisine, customs and culture so they are comfortable when they arrive in the region.

As air bridges are developed, we should focus on the low-hanging fruit and lure those New York-bound long haul passengers when they arrive at JFK Airport. Tourism promotions in their lands of origin will go a long way to making them think of a Caribbean jaunt once they arrive here.

We should also tap the millions of Asian-Americans, for example, who have made New York and America their home.

We have work to do, including streamlining the visa application process for those who are applying for a visa to the Caribbean. Having secured a US visa for their travel to the United States, why should we burden them any further if they want to travel to the Caribbean to experience our beauty and culture, and spend their money!

The end result? A healthier tourism industry – a key industry of peace and international understanding.

Let’s play our part.

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