Tourism officials defend decision to split US and Canadian markets – again

Consultant in the Ministry of Tourism, Shirlene Nibbs (Photo by Kieron Murdoch)

Officials in the Ministry of Tourism are adamant that their decision to separate the United States (US) and Canadian markets and the portfolio of the executive who oversaw them does not represent a failure of the original decision to merge the two in January of 2015.

According to Consultant in the Ministry of Tourism Shirlene Nibbs, the decision to split, which was made public in January 2016, was done to accommodate changes in both markets.

She maintains that the 2015 decision to merge was prudent at the time it was taken.

“It is not an admission of failure. It is definitely a responsible leadership and management approach where we do analysis and assessments to determine the needs in a very changing world and a very changing industry,” Nibbs declared.

“What we really recognise is that both markets have different needs right now and they have different methods of distribution,” Nibbs advised. As an example, she said, “At a particular point in time both markets – their dollars [value] would have been even. Right now if you look at it that’s one of the changes.”

When the Antigua Barbuda Tourism Authority (ABTA) merged marketing the US and Canadian markets in January of 2015 and selected a single executive – Marie Walker – to manage both, former ABTA Director of Tourism for the US Derede Samuel Whitlock warned that the move was unwise.

“It’s a completely different focus. You have the dual language situation in Canada. Culturally, they are very different in terms of what visitors are looking for. I know a lot of Canadians opt for longer vacations and they mostly travel to the Dominican Republic, Cuba and other islands,” Whitlock said.

The February 2015 interview with the former executive was done exclusively with OBSERVER media. When she spoke yesterday, Nibbs indicated that she was unaware that the former director had expressed that view.

(More in the Daily Observer)