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CHTA calls for regional fund

Albert Brandford

CHTA calls for regional fund

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NEWLY-elected President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Josef Forstmayr, has called for urgent action by all governments in he region for a cooperative marketing fund and regional integration to remove barriers to intra-Caribbean travel.
He also urged the citizens and governments of all Caribbean nations to recognise tourism as the No. 1 industry for job creation in the region.
Forstmayr noted a recent speech by British Prime Minister David Cameron, highlighting how tourism was one of the best and fastest ways of generating jobs, and that it was fundamental to the rebuilding and rebalancing of the economy.
“It is therefore crucial that our governments embrace the economic importance of the tourism industry as a major generator of jobs throughout the region,” the online industry newsletter, Breaking Travel News (BTN) reported earlier this week.
Travel and tourism directly and indirectly employs more than 1.9 million people in the Caribbean (one in every nine jobs), and accounts for 12.8 per cent of the Caribbean’s GDP – a higher percentage than any other region in the world.
“We need to continue to remind our people that “tourism business means jobs” not only in the hotels, but for the taxis, the restaurants, the farmers and fishermen that fill the restaurants with food,” Forstmayr added.
“It also means work for the seamstress, crafts people, shopkeepers and manufacturers, including all their workers plus the deliverymen as well as the trash collectors. In line with this, we need to improve regional linkages between our local agriculture industries and the hotel sector.
“Here in the Caribbean, it is even more important. On a number of islands, travel and tourism accounts for more than 50 per cent of all employment, and on some islands for more than 75 per cent.
“Overall, about 20 per cent of all Caribbean employment is travel and tourism dependent – something in the order of 2.5 million jobs.”
Forstmayr also targeted the youth of the Caribbean noting: “We must ensure that they can participate in the ownership and economic benefits of the industry. Having good talent and highly motivated staff working with our guests is very important.”