The Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) the region’s tourism development agency, and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), the umbrella private sector organization, said they firmly believe “that tourism is a key driver of socio-economic progress, helping destinations and countries to quickly create jobs and businesses, generate tax revenues and support infrastructure improvements to the benefit of residents and visitor.
“It is a proven tool to lower unemployment, stimulate indigenous entrepreneurial activity, increase foreign exchange earnings, and grow tax revenues for our treasuries.
“However, it is a fiercely competitive business, and we are facing the stark reality that we must find ways of maximizing the collective strength of the Caribbean, if any and all of us are to truly succeed,” the two organisations noted.
CTO Secretary General Hugh Riley last week made a presentation to the regional leaders last week that was also prepared in collaboration with the CHTA,.
The communique issued following the summit noted that that the leaders welcomed proposals from the two organisations for advancing a regional tourism agenda, particularly through public/private Sector Partnerships.
“Heads of Government acknowledged the importance of transportation and facilitation of travel, human resource development, the creative industries and marketing as well as competitiveness and financing for the sustainability of Tourism.
“Heads of Government agreed that public-private sector partnerships, guiding the development and marketing of tourism for the Caribbean, needed to be more effective and requested that the marketing of tourism encompass, in particular, the eco-tourism product of mainland Member States – Belize, Guyana and Suriname.”
Regarding travel, the regional leaders called for an urgent meeting of the Council for Trade and Development (COTED)-Transportation to address air transport issues in particular, including those related to the tourism sector.
The leaders said they also supported the establishment of an Interim Tourism Working Group comprising representation from the CARICOM Secretariat, CTO and the CHTA with the mandate to coordinate with regional public and private sector stakeholder groups, the development of specific solutions to be presented to the next summit in Grenada.
The CTO and CHTA said the support of the leaders “is a progressive and positive move and a welcomed commitment towards furthering the development of our people, so that they can take full advantage of the employment, career and entrepreneurial opportunities available through the region’s largest industry.
“We wish to thank the leaders for placing tourism on their agenda. We are particularly appreciative to Prime Minister Perry Christie of the Bahamas, who has responsibility for tourism in the CARICOM quasi-Cabinet, Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe and Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell for advancing the proposed initiative at the meeting,” the regional tourism bodies said.
- Countries: CARICOM