Caribbean Tourism's Thought Leaders

Leaders in improving Caribbean tourism's knowledge base along with bringing Caribbean nations closer together

Over the last few decades, as Caribbean tourism has developed, several dominant themes have run through many discussions: among them, the need for sustainability and environmental awareness as well as biosphere protection. Improved connectivity, education and training, fair taxation and the balance between cruise and stay-over tourism also play central roles. In tandem, the importance of bringing Caribbean nations together to co-promote is also emphasised. Some also advocate for reducing overall tourism arrivals while delivering better quality value-added services that visitors are willing to pay for.

The following serves as an overview of academics who have made, and are making, significant contributions to the discussions about Caribbean tourism. Hopefully, Caribbean political leaders will take heed and develop tourism, both within their economies but also in a regional context, to benefit their people more so than has been done in the past.

Ultimately the goal is to improve the quality of tourism delivery and to benefit all Caribbean peoples and nations, bringing sustainability and community values to 'top of mind' importance.

Eric Bailey: A New Economic Framework for Tourism Decision Making by Eric Bailey and Robert B. Richardson, 2010

Abstract: In this article it is argued that the conventional approach of conducting either a micro- or macro-economic analysis in tourism is incongruent with emerging concerns of the modern tourism system which require economic analysis that explicitly considers community as a unit of analysis. This article thus proposes an ecological economics framework for analyzing economic decision making in tourism. This approach assumes that tourism brings costs and benefits to a society with differential effects. Communities are proximate to the benefits or costs of tourism, including externalities or negative impacts which are often associated with tourism growth. Extensions of micro economic models are proposed as an alternative framework for addressing dynamic decision making and tradeoffs in resource use. This is consistent with evolving trends in tourism demand for sustainable products or destinations, and provides important insights into the inherent tradeoffs that tourism stakeholders may need to make in the post modern ‘triple bottom line accounting’ tourism industry.

Tenisha Brown-Williams

See: Caribbean Tourism Researchers Network (below)

Director and Senior Expert @ Green T&T: Tenisha has twenty years of experience in the hospitality & tourism sector on a Caribbean level.
She gained demonstrable experience at the national Tourism Development Company of Trinidad and Tobago where she co-supervised the Quality Control Unit and assisted small, medium and large tourism operators in using quality assurance initiatives for branding and marketing. Tenisha was a national representative to the International Organisation for the Standardisation Technical Tourism Committee in the areas of Environmentally Friendly Accommodation, Health Tourism, Naturally Protected Areas and Industrial Tourism. She contributed to the development of national tourism standards and coordinated the Trinidad and Tobago Tourism Industry Certification.
From 2015 to 2017 she was appointed as a committee member on the Regional CARICOM Technical Committee for Standards and Quality Tenisha represented Trinidad and Tobago on the Caribbean Public Health Agency and Inter-American Development Bank Regional Tourism Health Programme regarding regional tourist safety and Sustainable Tourism Since 2018, Tenisha is the Trinidad and Tobago National Coordinator for the Green Key international accommodation and attraction certification programme of the Foundation of Environmental Education.
Since 2013 she has lectured at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus in an adjunct role in the B.Sc. International Tourism Management and the M.Sc. Tourism Development and Management programmes. She was also an adjunct lecturer at the Trinidad and Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute (TTHTI) for a decade and served as a governor on the Board of the TTHTI from 2019-2020.
On the private sector level, she is co-founder of ShareHome Caribbean Ltd. a hospitality and tourism consulting firm in Trinidad and Tobago focused on assisting homeowners and property managers in generating income through the use of residential spaces.

Abstract: The global tourism industry has shifted due to COVID-19, with tourism- dependent islands facing a dire need to realign and reconstruct their tourism offerings to remain competitive. The traditional mass tourism model that has dominated island development has to be re-examined in this new tourism environment with new mindsets regarding the current conditions for destination success. This paper aims to promote an understanding of destination success in an island context and to identify which determinants are critical during this period to achieve optimal destination success. The findings from this study suggest that island destinations are at a critical turning point, and key strategic shifts are necessary to enable future destination success as defined by the Destination Management Organisations.
There is a need to shift from management to stewardship, from product to experience, from quantity to quality, and from stakeholder presence to engagement. Core to these strategic shifts is an incorporation of locals as central to the quality of the overall experience, with less reliance on the natural resources (sun, sea, and sand) to which these island destinations have been beholden to for decades.

Johnny Coomansingh

Johnny Coomansingh’s research focus is primarily concerned with tourism issues in the Caribbean region. His research surrounds topics such as the incidence of HIV/AIDS and its relationship to tourism in the Caribbean. He is also a keen observer of the budding tourism industry in Trinidad and Tobago. Among other things, he is certified in food safety (ServSafe), and has received training in public relations, restaurant and hospitality management. Some of his other research interests include cultural diffusion, and contested sacred space.

Selected articles

Myrna Ellis-Medina (Linkedin) | Her CV

Myrna Ellis is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of the West Indies, Jamaica. Her research area is Sustainable Development with a tourism focus. She also holds Master’s degrees in Environmental Science & Management and Tourism Development & Management. Presently, employed as a Senior Lecturer at the Caribbean Maritime University in Jamaica, she coordinates the Bachelor’s degree in Cruise Shipping and Marine Tourism. Building on her natural science foundation, her research interests include: cruise tourism, marine protected areas, sustainable development, blue economy, carrying capacity, crisis management and mixed methods research. Ms. Ellis has also co-authored two publications. (Managing Crises in Tourism: Resilience Strategies from the Caribbean, below)

Carol Hay, CEO McKenzie Gayle Limited, formerly of CTO UK | twitter

Gail Henry, Deputy Director, Tourism Product Development at the Cayman Islands’ Department of Tourism, formerly CTO: EcoClub Interview

Dr. Jean Holder, former Secretary General of the CTO and CEO of LIAT | Obituary

Dr. Jean Holder was a pioneer and a giant in Caribbean tourism. Sadly, Dr. Holder died on February 18, 2022.

Selected Books/Articles by Jean Holder:

About Dr. Jean Holder

Sir Royston Hopkin: In Memoriam, was owner of Spice Island Beach Resort, Grenada. His Legacy.

Sir Royston advocated for a strong service mentality and also to be environmentally pro-active.

The Importance of Green Tourism; Investing In Our Future by Sir Royston Hopkin Owner & Chairman, Spice Island Beach Resort | May 11, 2014 (requires subscription)

Eritha Huntley Lewis, UWI, Mona, Jamaica

Eritha Huntley Lewis has over eighteen years’ experience in adult education and training. Her areas of specialization are Tourism Policy and Planning, Events Management and Marketing. She has worked as Tourism Training Manager with the Tourism Product Development Company Ltd. (Jamaica) and has held several teaching positions at the University of the West Indies (Mona campus), University of Technology Jamaica, Northern Caribbean University and University College of the Caribbean in Jamaica. Mrs. Huntley Lewis has a M.Sc. in Tourism and Hospitality Management from the University of the West Indies Mona and a Bachelor of Law with the University of London. (Managing Crises in Tourism: Resilience Strategies from the Caribbean, below)

Environmental regulations and their effect on innovation and competitiveness in tourism in Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica by Eritha Huntley Lewis, 2019

This paper aims to explore the need for innovation in Caribbean tourism with stringent (mandatory) environmental regulations as the key driver of the process. It draws examples from three destinations, Barbados, Guyana and Jamaica. ... The main implication of this review is that it attempts to highlight the need for discourse on the effective use of environmental regulations to influence the behaviour of industry operatives towards achieving sustainable tourism. Within the context of climate change and the threat that this poses to Caribbean tourism, there is the critical need for this discourse. Consideration is also given to the value stringency of regulation since it is theorised that, if applied correctly, this may be the impetus to drive businesses to innovate to be competitive.
This is a novel approach to the management of the tourism industry which has shown a preference for self-regulation. Given the proposed outcome, the paper advocates mandatory, stringent regulations since self-regulation is a choice left solely to the industry operatives.

Chandana Jayarwardena, President, Chandi J. Associates Inc. Consulting, Canada, former Associate Dean - Centre for Hospitality & Culinary Arts, George Brown College, Canada (facebook) (twitter)

Chandana (Chandi) Jayawardena's research, Research Gate

David Jessop: Consultant and Editor, The Caribbean Council. (Profile at Caribbean Council)

The Caribbean Council provides specialist trade advisory, public affairs and events services to a range of clients in the public and private sector. Caribbean Council consultants have provided expert commentary and analysis to leading regional and global news media outlets, covering a wide range of political, economic and developmental news stories affecting the Caribbean, Central America and the Guianas.

Highly respected, David Jessop, Consultant and Non-Executive Director of the Caribbean Council, writes from a European perspective on Caribbean tourism. Based in London, UK.

He generally portrays a positive message regarding the future for Caribbean tourism but is keenly aware of the high seas and storms that are presenting challenges. His knowledge and definitive analysis are to be ignored at the peril of compromising future progress.

If there are themes running through the body of his analysis, they can be summarised in this way:

Mr Jessop stresses:

He questions whether Caribbean countries are doing enough to insure the sustainability of their destinations and therefore tourism in general.

His writing shows the value of linkages between tourism sector and other economic sectors such as local agriculture and light industry.

He also sees intra-Caribbean tourism as an underutilized market.

In general, he advises against punitive taxes and duties.

Mr Jessop has also shown that there is value in expanding the offering of tourism products. One example might be 'Multi-destination travel', similar to what many travellers do in Europe, by short visits to several countries. He thinks that tourism related to local culture and heritage also provides opportunities to deliver more products and services to visitors, increasing local value-add and helping to reduce the problem of leakages.

Selected key quotes:

"This suggests there is now the need to consider strategically how in future a wider product offering might encourage not only linkages with multiple sectors, but also catalyze rural development, grow transferable skills, and support newer industries in ways that better balance national economies. ... Some nations like Jamaica and Barbados already understand this, but others that are also tourism dependent have not."

"To better understand the changing market, it suggests that sectoral analysis requires more than the use of traditional statistics, and should additionally consider real-time travel bookings, tourism expenditure data, and consumer sentiment surveys."

Quoting a recent report: ‘Imagining a Post-COVID Tourism Recovery: A Regional Overview’, Mr Jessop states that giving ...

"greater priority to meeting the changing preference of travellers for nature-based tourism and experience related travel. This, it observes, makes it more important that the region protects its natural assets, environmental sustainability, and adapts to climate change."

"As previously noted by this column, the pandemic offers a unique opportunity to assess how a region with billions of dollars invested in fixed tourism infrastructure might establish new linkages that go far beyond agriculture and fisheries, able to stimulate, for example, new services-based industries located away from urban centres."

"The challenge that is now facing almost every Caribbean nation is how best to recover the tourism economy without which future economic growth and sustainable tax revenues will be all but impossible."
"While acknowledging their value, Frank Comito points out the cruise lines need to be better regional players. The Caribbean he says, “will have to explore whether it has the collective will to address from an equity perspective the role of the cruise sector vis-a-vis land-based tourism in its many forms”."

"It has indicated that when present difficulties have passed, long-term collaboration involving all stakeholders is needed to reimagine and deliver a better integrated industry, that comes to be seen by all as a sustainable, beneficial, ecologically sound, socio-economic development tool."

"As presently configured the tourism sector imports almost everything from food to cutlery and linen. Not only will global food shortages and surging energy prices drive up all hotel operating costs, but they will also put pressure on wages, making the Caribbean, an already expensive US Dollar denominated destination, less able to compete with other warm water destinations that are hoping to replace lost Russian and Chinese clients with some of the region’s European and North American visitors."

"There is also much to be considered in relation to the cruise lines, the need first to stimulate employment-generating long-stay land-based tourism, and the still missing regional response to the cruise company’s divisive approach to destinations."

"It has indicated that when present difficulties have passed, long-term collaboration involving all stakeholders is needed to reimagine and deliver a better integrated industry, that comes to be seen by all as a sustainable, beneficial, ecologically sound, socio-economic development tool."

"For those willing to look over the horizon, the issue now is about reorienting and developing the Caribbean tourism offering to reflect changing international demand for the authentic, for quality service and cuisine and even when the price is high, value for money. It reflects too an understanding that a significant part of the higher spending end of the market is looking for much more than just a luxury hotel and a beach in the tropics."

Leslie-Ann Jordan-MIller (Linkedin)

Leslie-Ann Jordan-Miller is a Senior Lecturer, Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Department of Management Studies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad. She holds a B.Sc. in Tourism Management (First Class Honours) from the University of the West Indies and a Post-Graduate Diploma (with Distinc- tion) and Ph.D. in Tourism Policy and Planning from the University of Otago, New Zealand. Leslie-Ann is also a Certified Manager of Quality/Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE) from the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and holds a Professional Certificate in Event Management, George Washington University and Institute of Business (IOB). She is the lead editor of the text, ‘Sports Event Management: The Caribbean Experience’ which was published by Ashgate, London. Her research interests include tourism development in small island developing states (SIDS) with special reference to the Anglophone Caribbean, institutional arrangements for tourism, tourism planning and development and tourism policy and decision-making. More recent research focuses on heritage tourism and customer experience management. (Managing Crises in Tourism: Resilience Strategies from the Caribbean, below)

Johnson Johnrose (Linkedin), former Communications Specialist at Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO); After 20 years with the CTO, Mr. Johnrose has moved on to the Government of Sint Eustatius and has been replaced by Kevin Pile (May, 2022) Mr. Johnrose possesses an understanding of Caribbean tourism that would be difficult to match. One of his primary themes is improving crisis preparedness.

Dr. Accolla Lewis-Cameron, co-ordinator of Tourism programme and Dean of Social Sciences at UWI, Mona, Jamaica

Robert MacLellan (Linkedin), MacLellan & Associates Hospitality Consultants

Earlston McPhee - Director - Sustainable Tourism Planning at Bahamas Ministry of Tourism (Linkedin)

Joanna Moses-Wothke (Linkedin)

A tourism professional with 15 years of tourism consultancy and academia experience in the Caribbean working on projects funded by major intergovernmental and governmental entities. She is currently the Dean of Academic Services at the TobagoHospitality and Tourism Institute, advocating for sound research writing, sustain- able tourismplanning and policy development within the Caribbean. She volunteers as the CEO at an NGO responsible for the local coordina- tion of the globally recognized Blue Flag and Green Key Programmes of the Foundation for Environmental Education. She served on the Board of Directors for governmental and civil society entities charged with the development and marketing of tourism in Tobago and provided exper- tise on human resource, research, product development and marketing matters. (Managing Crises in Tourism: Resilience Strategies from the Caribbean, above)

Polly Pattullo, writer and activist, author of Last Resorts: The Cost of Tourism in the Caribbean, 1996

The Caribbean has the fortune —and misfortune —to be everyone's idea of a tropical paradise. Its sun, sand, and scenery attract millions of visitors each year and make it a profitable destination for the world's fastest growing industry. Tourism is increasingly touted as its only hope of creating jobs and wealth—literally, the islands' last resort.

Last Resorts examines the real impact of tourism on the people and landscape of the Caribbean. It explores the structure of ownership of the industry and shows that the benefits it brings to the region do not live up to its claims. New developments in ecotourism, sex tourism, and the burgeoning cruise industry are not changing this pattern of short-term exploitation of the region's resources. The book shows how Caribbean societies are corrupted by tourism and its culture turned into floorshow parody.

This new edition has been extensively revised and updated. It gives voice to people inside the tourism industry, its critics, and tourists themselves, and offers vital insights into a phenomenon that is central to the globalized world of today.

Polly Pattullo, a London-based journalist, skillfully weaves together the book from travelogues, official and business surveys, academic journals, local newspapers, interviews, poetry, and song. The tourism industry in the Caribbean has undergone significant transformations in the past decade, and Last Resorts seeks to update older literature on tourism and to synthesize some of the more recent specialized studies on the tourist industry. The book's nine chapters give a detailed picture of the central issues and problems in the contemporary tourism industry: planning, employment, social impact, the environment and ecotourism, the tourists, the cruise-ship industry, and culture and identity. (H-Net Reviews)

Polly Pattullo has written widely about the Caribbean region. She works for The Guardian and Caribbean Insight in London and co-founded a tour operating company in the Eastern Caribbean. (source:

Polly Pattullo Hon. FRSL is a British author, journalist, editor and publisher, who co-founded in 1998 the independent publishing company Papillote Press, based in Dominica and London, England (Wikipedia)

Walking Dominica: The following is a description of a 1998 round-island walk by Polly Pattullo.

Also by Polly Pattullo:

The ethical travel guide: your passport to exciting alternative holidays By Polly Pattullo, Orely Minelli

Your Time is Done Now: Slavery, Resistance, and Defeat: The Maroon Trials of Dominica (1813–1814)

Dr. Auliana Poon (Linkedin), owner of Villa Being, Tobago, founder of Leve Global, Exceptional Caribbean and Tourism Intelligence International
Dr. Poon heads the Leve-Global Group of Companies (including Tourism Intelligence International, Villa Being, Being Sustainable and the Tourism Intelligence Academy).

Carmen Portela (Linkedin), co-founder of Local Guest and Bana (facebook)

Carmen is considered a thought leader in the areas of community based tourism development and sustainable tourism. She also serves as an advocate and consultant for the Cannatourism space in the Caribbean with projects in Puerto Rico & Jamaica. (Caribbean Wellness & Education)

Local Guest is a women-powered social enterprise dedicated to co-creating and promoting authentic tourism experiences by working hand-in-hand with local communities and entrepreneurs in order to build a new tourism ecosystem based on sustainable development practices. (Centre for Responsible Tourism)

Living Bana: Ocean, Sun and Collaboration by Carmen Portela

Hugh Riley (Linkedin), former Secretary General of the CTO, now retired

Dr. Sherma Roberts, Senior Lecturer in Tourism at University of the West Indies (Linkedin)

Sherma Roberts is a Senior Lecturer in Tourism at the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus. Having taught in the UK, she joined the Department of Management Studies in 2005, where she has worked hard to raise the profile of tourism education. Some of her accomplishments include hosting the first UWI wide international tourism confer- ence, creating the opportunity for students in the OECS to pursue undergraduate tourism programmes at Cave Hill, developing a suite of post- graduate tourism programmes that are relevant to the region and collaborating closely with the local and regional industry for internships and guest lectures. In addition to teaching, she serves as Chair of the Tobago Tourism Agency and previously held positions as Chair of the Tourism Advisory Council in Barbados and Deputy Chair of the Barbados Tourism Product Authority. She has been instrumental in developing the participatory framework for the Tourism White Paper (2012–2021) in Barbados. Recently, she served as a panelist for the Caribbean Examinations Council developing the recently launched CAPE tourism syllabus and was Chief Examiner for the subject from 2014 to 2016. She has three co-edited books and recently published Contemporary Caribbean Tourism: Concept and Cases —which will be used by tourism students throughout the Caribbean archipelago and beyond. Sherma has written and presented papers in areas pertaining to community participation, corporate social responsibility, sustainable tourism, diaspora tourism, e-marketing and tourism entrepreneurship. (Managing Crises in Tourism: Resilience Strategies from the Caribbean, above)

Shinelle Smith (Linkedin)

Shinelle Smith is a Tourism Lecturer at Tobago Hospitality and Tourism Institute. She is passionate about inspiring critical thinking in the field of education and challenges her students to use their knowledge to address real-life issues and to create viable solutions affecting tourism-oriented communities. Shinelle is also the founder of The Travel Taxi Ltd., a regional, tourism-based consultancy which promotes sustainable, eco-friendly travel and affords hospitality training to small and medium-sized businesses within the industry. Her company has consulted for properties in St. Kitts, Grenada, Dominica and Tobago. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality and Tourism, a Master of Science in Tourism Development and Management, a Master of Science in Innovation, Management and Entrepreneurship, a CELTA certificate from Cambridge and is currently pursuing qualifications in Education Technology and Education Administration. In her free time, her hobbies include travel, cooking and reading West Indian fiction. (Managing Crises in Tourism: Resilience Strategies from the Caribbean, above)

Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace (CHTA Profile) (facebook)

Caribbean Tourism Researchers Network

In May of [2021], the Caribbean region of International Tourism Studies Association (ITSA) launched the Caribbean Tourism Researchers Network. The group’s mission will be to improve the tourism sector in the Caribbean through research. Three goals of the initiative, over the next two years, will be: one, to strengthen ties among researchers with an interest in Caribbean tourism issues; two, to connect the group with other leading tourism researchers in ITSA and globally; and three, to facilitate the dissemination of cutting edge tourism research on the Region. While ITSA membership is encouraged for participation in this network, it is not required.

For more details on this important network, contact ITSA’s Regional Vice President for the Caribbean, Dr. Annmarie Nicely, at email address

See: facebook


The network lists the following as members (2022):

ITSA Newsletter, Mar 2022 Vol. 12 No. 1;

Not directly tourism but are connected: