Caribbean Officials Studying Benefits Of Marijuana To Attract New Tourists
By Mitti Hicks
Attitudes are shifting when it comes to marijuana, which is evident as many states and countries from around the world move to legalize it.
And while marijuana remains illegal in many Caribbean countries, tourism officials are starting to analyze how legalizing the drug could impact the industry, especially after the region took a hit during last year’s hurricane season.
Tourism industry leaders said they will begin to study how pot tourism has developed in places where the drug has been legalized.
“We now have some precedence to follow,” Hugh Riley, CEO of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, said during a Facebook Live conference on pot tourism earlier this month. “There’s a lot of excellent research out of California and Colorado. Canada is new to the party, so we can start watching there.”
Data revealed that in 2016, out of Colorado’s 90 million visitors, approximately 13 million tourists chose Colorado for a marijuana experience. Data also revealed that 4.5 million people said pot was their motivation for visiting, according to Adrian Brijbassi, a Canadian journalist who covers the Caribbean.
“This resulted in over a 5 million-dollar revenue for the state of Colorado and that does not include additional tax revenue,” Brijbassi stated.
Riley stated in the press conference with other tourism stakeholders that research will not involve issues around legalizing or criminalizing marijuana. Instead, it will focus on marijuana use from a tourism point of view.
“People take a vacation for a new experience,” he said. “Because it has been on the prohibition list for so long, and because things are changing throughout the world, people tend to go away to do things that they can’t normally do in their homes. If some parts of the world are now attracting tourists who want to try marijuana in whatever form […] what about the Caribbean?”