Caribbean Tourism: Chess vs. Checkers

After 15 years working almost exclusively in the Caribbean, we have learned a great deal about the “games” being played and there are many of them. I am intrigued by the most basic of gamesmanship and how it applies to the Caribbean Cruise Tourism Industry. If you have ever played checkers, you quickly learn how to play by concentrating on your next move to force a specific move by your opponent. Chess, on the other hand, has a strategy that requires planning for the next 4 or 5 moves in advance. A chess vs. checkers parallel may be drawn in the cruise industry as the disparity of gamesmanship between “cruise lines playing chess and the island destinations playing checkers”. This disparity is evident in almost every cruise line / island relationship. When IDEA entered the industry in 2000, we quickly recognized that the cruise lines were light years ahead of the islands in their strategic planning for ports of call and cruise tourism. We began to refer to the difference in strategy as “the lines are playing chess while the islands are playing checkers”. Cruise line announcements are often considered as an individual move with no strategic analysis or thought from the destinations that will be impacted by the announcement. The lack of critical or strategic thought from the destination greatly diminishing their negotiating position.

Destinations should begin to strategically plan for their long term value rather than short term gain or political election cycles.


We are working hard through our Tropical Brainstorming service offering to educate islands and private ports on how to play better “Chess” and not make moves one at a time. Investing in cruise tourism can be risky, but if played strategically, can bring significant economic growth to any small island nation.

Ask us how we can conduct a Tropical Brainstorm for your port and start playing Chess.