Tourism will remain the main driver given that Eastern Caribbean labor is expensive and with low skills levels. Some niche areas can develop but not enough to absorb most of the population.
Niche areas like premium rum, coffee, species, condiments, handcrafts, music/media are really an important complement, but complement that's, to Tourism in that part of the Americas.
The Caribbean private sector remains the domain of shopkeepers, not innovators. Port of Spain, Bridgetown, Georgetown and Kingston aren't Accra, Lagos, Nairobi, or Jo'burg, where viable tech sectors are developing.
All those Caribbean capitals together fit many times in one of those African cities, just by going by the critical mass, chances of tech development in The Caribbean may be less than in huge African cities, unless the Caribbean education sector really pushes for tech entrepreneurship.
The Caribbean cannot even develop a thriving media driven sector based on its vibrant culture. It doesnt leverage the markets that its large Diaspora or its visitor base can provide when they return home. Even some iconic Caribbean brands are now slipping out of (English) Caribbean hands.
Very sad indeed. The potential is there, Spanish speaking Latinoamérica has kind of done it, but mostly in Miami. English-speaking Caribbean desperately needs an integrated media player.
Has CAL developed in ways that COPA did? Panama has less reason to worry about decisions that foreign carriers will make because COPA is a strong brand.
CAL is a strong name (would rather say, name not brand, because its name is an asset), however its focus has always been (1) P2P VFR traffic (POS, GEO), (2) P2P some Tourism traffic, (3) some business traffic (POS,GEO), (4) the POS-TAB shuttle. Copying CM model, turning POS into a hub has never been a priority for BW and the different BW management teams have had their reason not to go that way.
Where could a BW hub operation get traffic from?
GEO, PBM, BGI.. ?
CCS traffic may work but is kind of out of the question now. BW route planners refuse to think of the major markets in the South which geographically would make sense for POS: GRU, GIG (oil + gas traffic), EZE, LIM and VVI (gas traffic); B.T.W. all within B737-800 range.
Sure, would BW dare to fly to South America, in the beginning its yields would be low as the new player in the South America - North America/Caribbean market, but wasn't that how CM started? Look where it's now.
US/European economies are in dire shape and this isn't just the leisure sectors. Unless CARICOM economies become less dependent on these markets it remain vulnerable to these shocks. I bet the limited export oriented assembly plants which remain are also in dire shape, as are T&Ts energy based sectors. It isnt dependence on tourism which created the problem. Its dependence on external markets. What % of Caribbean consumer expenditures remain in the Caribbean?
Small countries can't really count on their small markets, they all depend on external markets, be export or tourism. The energy sector would most likely rebound soon, other later, maybe much later.
I'm not on CM's payroll.