A multi-stop trip is defined as a single trip that includes a visit to more than one destination. Therefore, a multi-stop tourism concept implies a strategy shared by two or more countries that offer and promote a joint product or route. Destinations such as the Caribbean are prime locations for effective multi-stop travel to take place. With the proximity and similarity of the islands, travel between the destinations is a popular way to give the region a competitive advantage, while economic recovery from the pandemic is of central importance for destinations globally.

According to GlobalData ’s Q3 2021 consumer survey, 20% of global respondents said they typically take multi-stop trips. Increasingly, multi-stop trips can be an efficient and profitable tool to attract visitors that might otherwise not consider visiting the destination. This is particularly true in the case of tourists from long-haul source markets, who want to make the best of a long-haul trip by combining trips to various countries in the same region that complement each other. Multi-stop travel is also integral to the cruise experience.

The tourism industry could be central to developing a new model of economic integration

Historically, the approach to tourism development has been the single-destination model, where each country and/or destination competes for its market share, utilising various marketing and promotion strategies to attract visitors.  This unilateral approach is still very prevalent among the countries of the Caribbean, in spite of efforts by various regional agencies to promote joint ventures. Multi-stop tourism, however, goes beyond marketing and promotion and is an approach to tourism development that adds value to the tourism experience while expanding the benefits of tourism to more than one destination.

In this regard, multi-stop tourism can be considered one of the complementary means to diversify the regional tourism industry while both capitalising on the region’s natural and cultural assets and contributing to social and economic growth. Multi-stop tourism caters to this rising demand for responsible experiences by offering access to a wider range of destinations. The development of multi-stop tourism is important, as the additional revenue streams created by this type of tourism can be fundamental for the continued success of businesses and communities.

Multi-stop travel is becoming increasingly popular

The view of the Caribbean Council is that economies of a similar size and level of development are complementary and can integrate better from an economic and commercial perspective in order to boost the travel industry. There may be greater future value in Jamaica, Cuba and the Dominican Republic, being in a closer economic relationship that might also involve the Cayman Islands as a financial hub. The suggestion is that there are better opportunities for growth through a more rational approach to economic integration between geographically proximate, complementary economies linked to much-improved transport infrastructure.

It is important to note that, like many aspects of tourism, there are benefits and drawbacks to the development of the multi-stop tourism sector. However, in the case of multi-stop tourism, the positives far outweigh the negatives. More integration and cooperation are emerging as a response to the economic impact of Covid-19 in recent years. At present, there is a lack of consistency between individual countries with regard to visas and entry requirements. Through increased collaboration on these matters by destinations, a smoother travel experience for tourists can be created. This means more travellers are likely to take multi-stop trips, culminating in improvements for multiple destinations in the region. Trips offered by multi-stop tourism destinations such as the Caribbean are likely to become more popular as more travellers start seeking unique, varied experiences, meaning the growth potential for the sector is strong.