Regional Leaders to Meet in St. Lucia on July 2


The planned meeting of CARICOM Heads of government and Opposition leaders will take place in St. Lucia on July 2, prior to the Summit of Heads on July 3. Senator Whiteman made the announcement at the weekly post Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House yesterday (May 9).
The meeting had been scheduled for Jamaica at an earlier date, but had to be postponed, Senator Whiteman said, due to a number of events happening in different countries at the same time, and was thus added to the agenda for the Caribbean Heads Summit.
The objective of the discussions, he informed, was to broaden the base of discussion on matters relating to CARICOM.
“It had been mooted earlier in different quarters that there needed to be a wider engagement on matters relating to CARICOM itself, the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), the Caribbean Court of Justice and it was felt that a useful way of doing this would be to have a meeting of the Opposition leaders along with the Heads,” Senator Whiteman said, noting that Prime Minister P.J. Patterson, had proposed the idea for the meeting.
On another matter, Cabinet also approved the official visit of the Minister of Industry and Tourism, Aloun Ndombet Assamba to Canada from May 25 to May 29, to participate in a series of tourism-related activities, as the Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) marks its 50th anniversary.
“It is now just a year since Air Jamaica started flying to Toronto again and the results of that has been very encouraging. There has been a 12.5 per cent increase in the number of tourist visitors coming from Canada. It is also the case that there is now additional airlift from other airlines coming from Canada to Jamaica,” Senator Whiteman remarked.
He pointed out that, “this year, the JTB is marking 50 years of existence and given the general increase in tourism activity, supported by the findings of the WTO (World Trade Organisation) that there seems to have been genuine recovery and rebound for North American outbound traffic post 9/11, it was felt important that the Minister should be part of the activities in Toronto marking this 50th anniversary of the JTB”.
The Information Minister said the aim was to strengthen the programme for destination Jamaica to become a household name in Toronto and the rest of Canada.
Immediately following the JTB activities, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation will host its annual seven-day celebration of Caribbean Week in New York from May 29 to June 4. “This is a week in which there will be a series of meetings with businesspeople, the general public, Caribbean people in the Diaspora, festivals and exhibitions promoting Caribbean history, literature, food, music and entertainment in general,” he explained.
The highlight of the week will be the Caribbean state ball on June 3, with some 1,000 dignitaries, officials and decision makers from the United States and the Caribbean expected to attend. Jamaica will be represented by Prime Minister Patterson and Minister Assamba. The Prime Minister will receive the Distinguished Service Award at the event, for his work to promote the Caribbean as a premier tourist destination.

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