In a week in which Caribbean tourism leaders have been meeting in New York to build on the strong growth that much of the industry is now experiencing, it may seem perverse to be writing about the sustainability of Caribbean tourism. 

However, there is growing evidence that fundamental structural changes taking place globally in the industry are likely to raise new questions about the social and economic value tourism brings.

Tourism is increasingly a price-based commodity, benefitting mainly those who own its supply: the hotels, the airlines and cruise ships, and the industry’s multifaceted marketing operations. The commercial opportunity that economic globalisation offers is leading rapidly to consolidation, resulting in an industry dominated by a very few powerful brands, and the homogenisation of the product within specific price categories. The consequence is that before long what is on offer will become hard to differentiate with the owners of the ‘hardware’ offering similar experiences in all warm-water destinations whether they be in the Maldives, Fiji, Barbados or the Dominican Republic…..