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MONTEGO BAY — Delegates representing over 23 member countries of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) have been called upon to unite, in examining ways in which indigenous resources can be utilized to drive tourism investment possibilities in the region.

The call was made by Jamaica’s Minister of Tourism, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, as he delivered the keynote address at the official opening ceremony of the 15th Annual Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference, at the Iberostar Rose Hall Suites Hotel, Montego Bay, Tuesday May 10.

“The Caribbean has to look within itself to see how we can, through our own efforts, utilize indigenous resources to drive investment possibilities,” Mr. Bartlett said.

He suggested that some companies may need to look at merging each other, because they may not be able to meet the supply and demand needs of tourism services within the region, on their own.

“They could provide that efficiency required, they could enable us to have more Caribbean products being utilised within the industry and, by so doing, retain more of the critical dollars within the Caribbean”, Mr. Bartlett noted.

He observed that the time had come for new brands from new sources of investments such as China, Brazil, Russia and India, among others, representing a new layer of emerging economies with the capability for strong South/South investments and strong tourism outbound activities.

He said that, as the region seeks to examine new ways to invite new investments, it also needs to look at how it can to create products at home that can respond to new types of market demands.

“New capital needs to come into the region, new products need to be in the region, new technologies need to be in the region, and we need to go to new market sources as new partnerships (must be forged),” the tourism minister pointed out.

He also urged participants in the conference, over the next two days, to ‘think long and hard’ in considering innovation, as the hallmark of all efforts and deliberations, ending the conference with a blueprint for a new Caribbean.

He said that the Conference will offer, not only an opportunity for some introspection or to examine some of the practices pursued over the period and what has happened during the recession, but a chance to look at what are the key restructuring that must be done.

Secretary General of the CTO, Hugh Riley, said that the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Investment Conference performs the function of bringing parties of common interests together to network, in an effort to ‘transform interests into action and investments into profit’.

He said that the conference will discuss all types of investment vehicles suitable for the tourism industry, in the current climate of turmoil.

“Fortunately for the Caribbean, one of our major assets is stability, therefore, let us seize on the idea of strength through collaboration and through mergers, alliances and partnerships,” Mr. Riley noted.

                                                           

By GLENIS  ROSE, JIS REGIONAL OFFICE