Diaspora tourism significant to Caribbean economies
Revealing the economic power of the Caribbean's overseas communities, the half-hour documentary "Forward Home" will have its UK premiere on Monday, November 5 at 6 p.m. at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall.
The film's executive producer is economist and creative industries specialist, Dr. Keith Nurse, who is the WHO Chair at the University of the West Indies.
Produced and directed by award-winning Trinidad-based filmmaker Lisa Wickham, with stunning cinematography by Sheldon Felix, "Forward Home" illuminates the findings of Dr. Nurse's ground-breaking research project, "Strategic Opportunities in Caribbean Migration", which studies four Caribbean countries and their counterpart communities in global cities: Jamaica and London; Guyana and Toronto; Suriname and the Netherlands; and the Dominican Republic and New York.
"We have begun to document the uncharted territory of what we call 'Diasporic Tourism,'", explained Dr. Nurse who added "what has been widely known anecdotally, we now have empirical data - solid facts and sound research - to back it up."
The groundbreaking two-year study shows that more than 60 percent of the tourists who arrive in Guyana and Suriname are "Diaspora travelers" or Caribbean nationals living abroad. In Jamaica and the Dominican Republic, these nationals account for between 15 to 20 percent of tourists who travel to the region.
"We have found that Diaspora Tourism is a significant component of Caribbean tourism, and it is not a monolithic construct. These are not just leisure tourists, but people who come for educational and medical reasons, for festivals and other cultural events. We have also found there is an intersection between Diasporic Tourism and the telecommunications, airline, shipping and media industries," he said, noting that the findings have been far more dynamic than expected.
Dr. Nurse, who was born in the United Kingdom and grew up in Trinidad, recommends more strategic planning and marketing on the Diasporic sector to further propel diversification of the Caribbean economy. By so doing, "we can encourage and enlist more Diasporic entrepreneurs, both at home and in the global cities where Caribbean diasporas predominate."