Exploring the Dynamics of Socio-Cultural Sustainability in Trinidad’s Mice Market
Narendra Ramgulam, Koshina Raghunandan-Mohammed, Moolchand Raghunandan

Tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world and it is well known to contribute to economic, environmental and socio-cultural benefits to many countries. It brings economic value in the form of revenue generation, continuous foreign exchange earnings and is a means for diversifying the economy. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, in 2011, the Travel and Tourism sector accounted for approximately 9.2 percent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Environmentally, tourism can provide benefits in the form of green taxes, the induction of environmentally friendly practices by tourism facilities and beautification drives, which promote a level of aestheticism. Socio-culturally, tourism provides employment opportunities, it allows the local culture to gain wider acceptance and leads to cross cultural exchanges with other countries. Tourism is seen by many countries as a panacea to sustainable development. As such, different countries promote different forms of tourism products. Business Tourism, one such tourism product, adds significant economic value to the tourism GDP and is on the front burner for some countries. While this option is being undertaken as part of a sustainable development strategy, key stakeholders have continuously lobbied that such development should not be pursued at the expense of a country‟s socio-cultural assets, the core that boosts business tourism. The aim of this paper is to provide an understanding of business tourism and how it contributes to socio-cultural sustainability. It examines the importance and relevant theories that have been used to explain observed socio-cultural impacts and spill-off externalities. The paper also discusses the concept of business tourism and captures the socio-cultural impact of this niche market. It examines the viability of business tourism as it relates to socio-cultural sustainability in Trinidad and makes policy recommendations for the future. An examination of Australia‟s tourism industry and its key strategic areas for development are presented, and an analysis is provided on how Trinidad can be benchmarked against Australia in these key strategic areas. From this qualitative study utilizing a thematic analysis, it was determined that business tourism was socio-culturally sustainable and should be pursued as a micro sector for diversifying the Trinidad and Tobago economy. The findings also revealed that there are potential benefits when countries actively pursue business tourism that is in harmony with established socio-cultural practices. It also purports and embraces the notion of sustainability as a way forward.

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