Caribbean tourism ministers have pledged to work more closely for the development of the region's tourism sector.
Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, in his address at the opening of Caribbean Marketplace 2011 on Sunday January 16 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St. James, said that following a meeting held earlier in the day, the ministers committed to deepen the collaboration and cooperation processes.
"We resolved to look at our issues together, to solve our problems together, and to recognise that if we are able to market the destination as one, to strengthen our brand, create airlift arrangements that can enable us to have multi-drop facilities, and if we can advocate with energy and vigor, the issues that are affecting us most, such as the Airport Passenger Duty (APD) then we can build a stronger Caribbean movement," he stated.
Nine ministers and commissioners of tourism from the Caribbean are in Montego Bay for Caribbean Marketplace.
Staged annually by the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Caribbean Marketplace is the premier marketing event for the region’s tourism sector, and brings together tourism stakeholders from destinations across the region with buyers from source markets around the world, in a face-to-face situation. It was last held in Jamaica in 2005.
Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, welcomed the visitors to the island, especially the wholesalers and buyers, whom he said, were “indispensable partners in the tourism enterprise that means so much to the islands of the Caribbean”.
He said the partnership is greatly valued and the region wants to make the collaboration even more robust.
“And, that partnership has been especially vital to us over the last few years as we have sought to navigate our way through the tempestuous recession that we have had to face,” he stated.
President of the CHTA, Josef Forstmayr, in expressing pleasure at the large turnout of buyers, stated that all tourism interests across the region, who suffered the impact of the economic crisis over the last two years, now have reason to be optimistic.
“Right now, at Marketplace 2011, we have more buyers that have come to meet with hotels and tourism interests than attended last year, an indication that business is coming back,” he stated.
In the meantime, he informed that the CHTA has launched a ‘Tourism is Key’ advocacy campaign across the region, aimed at underscoring the importance of the tourism and travel industry to Caribbean economies. He pointed out that tourism is the central creator of employment and principal provider of taxes in many Caribbean countries.
“We all need to understand that whether or not anyone works directly in the tourism areas, every tourist dollar brings economic and social benefit to every level of our society,” he stated.
CONTACT: BRYAN MILLER
JIS REGIONAL OFFICE