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Tourism life cycle, tourism competitiveness and upgrading strategies in the Caribbean

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Tourism life cycle, tourism competitiveness and upgrading strategies in the Caribbean

Auteur institutionnel: NU. CEPAL. Sede Subregional para el Caribe Physical Description: 57 p. : ill. Éditorial: ECLAC, Subregional Headquarters for the Caribbean Date: Novembre 2008 ECLAC symbol: LC/CAR/L.166


In the 1980s Butler adapted the life cycle product model to the tourism industry and created
the “Tourism Area Life Cycle (TALC) model”. The model recognizes six stages in the tourism
product life cycle: exploration, investment, development, consolidation, stagnation and followed,
after stagnation, by decline or revitalization of the product. These six stages can in turn be regrouped
into four main stages. The Butler model has been applied to more than 30 country cases with a wide
degree of success. De Albuquerque and Mc Elroy (1992) applied the TALC model to 23 small
Caribbean island States in the 1990s. Following De Albuquerque and Mc Elroy, the TALC is applied
to the 32 member countries of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) (except for Cancun and
Cozumel) to locate their positions along their tourism life-cycle in 2007. This is done using the
following indicators: the evolution of the level, market share and growth rate of stay-over arrivals;
the growth rate and market share of visitor expenditures per arrival and the tourism styles of the
destinations, differentiating between ongoing mass tourism and niche marketing strategies and
among upscale, mid-scale and low-scale destinations. Countries have pursued three broad classes of
strategies over the last 15 years in order to move upward in their tourism life cycle and enhance their
tourism competitiveness. There is first a strategy that continues to rely on mass-tourism to build on
the comparative advantages of “sun, sand and sea”, scale economies, all-inclusive packages and large
amounts of investment to move along in Stage 2 or Stage 3 (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Puerto
Rico). There is a second strategy pursued mainly by very small islands that relies on developing
specific niche markets to maintain tourism competitiveness through upgrading (Anguilla, Antigua
and Barbuda, British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos), allowing them to move from Stage 2 to
Stage 3 or Stage 3 to a rejuvenation stage.
There is a third strategy that uses a mix of mass-tourism, niche marketing and quality
upgrading either to emerge onto the intermediate stage (Trinidad and Tobago); avoid decline
(Aruba, The Bahamas) or rejuvenate (Barbados, Jamaica and the United States Virgin Islands).
There have been many success stories in Caribbean tourism competitiveness and further research
should aim at empirically testing the determinants of tourism competitiveness for the region as a

Table of contents

.--I. Tourism Area Life Cycle (TALC) Model and Concurrent Tourism Strategies.--II. Tourism Competitiveness and Tourism Performance in the Caribbean.--III. Tourism Life Cycle in the Caribbean: From Mass Tourism to Upgrading.--IV. Concluding Remarks