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Bell calls PM to push for summit on Tourism
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, who is due to assume chairmanship of Caricom later this year, is being urged to use her influence at the regional level to push for the converting of a summit on tourism.
The call was made by John Bell, a past Director General of the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) and former President of the International Hotel and Restaurant Association (IH&RA), who said Persad-Bissessar now has the ideal platform to put the industry in the spotlight at the national and regional levels.
Bell said the region is one of the most tourism dependent in the world, with some islands relying on the sector for more than 70 per cent of their GDP. He said as the administrative entity for the region, Caricom needs to work on prioritising tourism on its action agenda.
“Tourism has not figured anywhere on the agenda of heads of government meetings in the last ten years. Sadly, during this time the industry has suffered horribly as a result of the recent financial downturn. “This has not always been the case.
In 1992, Jamaica’s Prime Minister Michael Manley with the help of the Caribbean Hotel Association and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, hosted a conference in Kingston entirely dedicated to tourism, where he embraced not only the Caricom territories, but the wider Caribbean,” he said.
“Out of that meeting, with financial help from American Airlines, came the Beach Boys’ Kokomo’TV ad that generated an immediate spike in tourism arrivals.”
Bell said other industry conferences included a follow up tourism conference in 1995, convened under the sponsorship of the Association of Caribbean States (ACS) in Port of Spain, with Prime Minister Patrick Manning as chair; after 9/11, then Prime Minister of the Bahamas Hubert Ingraham, who held CARICOM’s tourism portfolio held an emergency meeting in Nassau and two months later, with help from CHA and Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), a second region-wide conference. From this conference, the successful Life needs the Caribbean campaign resulted in a significant increase in international arrivals to the region.
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