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Groups celebrate World Tourism Day


Groups celebrate World Tourism Day
The latest advisory was updated on Easter Monday. (FILE)

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Bridgetown – The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) have both joined the global community in celebrating World Tourism Day 2021 under the theme, Tourism for Inclusive Growth.

In a message on Sunday, the CTO said that along with approximately a dozen regional and international partners, the organisation is collaborating on a virtual event aimed at highlighting and addressing the challenges faced in forging a sustainable tourism sector and identifying the opportunities to build a more socially inclusive, sustainable and smart sector.

“It’s a clear sign of the importance we all place on collaboration and inclusion, a key plank of the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) #17, ‘Partnerships for Goals’ which emphasises inclusive partnerships at the global, regional, national and local levels and shared goals placing people and the planet at the centre of development,” said the CTO’s Secretary General Neil Walters.

“World Tourism Day is also being celebrated at a time when the region’s tourism sector is beginning to emerge from the prolonged impact of COVID-19.

“Some of our member countries have reported record stayover arrivals during the months of July and August, while others show their arrival numbers trending in the right direction and even approaching 2019 levels. We still have to be aware of the challenges and potential hurdles as we move to a recovery mindset, but these are encouraging signs that the hard work our member countries have put into adapting to the changing environment of the pandemic, is beginning to pay dividends. Our progress amidst the challenges gives hope to the millions of Caribbean nationals who depend on tourism for a living, either directly or indirectly.”

Walters noted that as the region celebrates  incremental successes – “this year’s theme is a reminder that, even as arrival numbers rise and tourism revenue increases, we begin to revise our measures of success to include an analysis of the social and economic benefits of the sector. The new tourism approach must ensure that our local communities participate in the renewed tourism economy. Similarly, additional focus must be placed on vulnerable groups, including women, the youth, the disabled and indigenous and marginalized communities, to ensure that they are meaningfully included in the tourism economy”.

He said that as the regional tourism industry looks towards the future, sustainable tourism used as a development tool, at the forefront of the region’s economic recovery, can help to strengthen other sectors against the effects of future shocks.

He added that the CTO has recognised that in order to achieve these goals, alliances and partnerships with organisations and institutions that play a meaningful role in contributing to the social and economic development of the region must be forged.

“One such example is our collaboration with the Compete Caribbean Partnership Facility (CCPF) which is funding community-based tourism pilot projects using the cluster approach in rural and indigenous areas in three Caribbean countries.”

For its part – the Acting CEO and Director General, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Vanessa Ledesma said the association is pleased to join the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in marking World Tourism Day 2021.

In a statement on Sunday, she said the theme is particularly relevant this year “because all areas of our destinations across the Caribbean have been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate-related disasters”.

“Our sector, which attracts precious foreign exchange revenues, has suffered grievously, and as a result, the economies and the people of our region have been enormously impacted.

“This is why we welcome this year’s theme. Tourism is the major breadwinner for the Caribbean, and whatever affects tourism affects the region as a whole. So as an association of private sector tourism and business stakeholders we are pleased to support and participate actively in the continued drive to return our sector back to its diverse, dynamic pre-COVID state and jumpstarting its recovery with the particular focus on inclusive growth.”

The acting CEO and director general noted that no other sector can promote the aspirations of locals for lives of dignity, economic independence, and respect as effectively as tourism.

“A thriving tourism sector feeds and nourishes so many other stakeholders and this is especially so in the Caribbean, the world’s most tourism-dependent region. We see this in abundance throughout the region as a growing number of Caribbean nationals have aspired to positions of top management and ownership in tourism-related businesses and the many other enterprises in their communities which are made possible due to the cascading impact of visitor spending.”

She added that CHTA members and associates are well rooted in their respective locales and are able to quickly ascertain the needs of their surrounding communities.

“Indeed, tourism contributes to all the Sustainable Development Goals identified by United Nations member countries, spanning economic growth, food security, consumption and production as well as the responsible use of oceans and marine resources.

The COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters have ruptured social and economic activities with marginalized groups, with the most vulnerable being hit hardest of all.”

“The full restart of tourism will be the speediest and most productive way to recovery and growth. It is essential that the benefits this will bring are enjoyed widely and fairly, and no one is left behind.”

She noted that the, CHTA is honoured to participate with “our public sector partner, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, leaders from government, the private sector and non-governmental, academic, health and media organisations for a day-long virtual conference on the future of Caribbean tourism”.

The virtual conference brings together tourism leaders to highlight the challenges, successes and best practices on “The Future of Caribbean Tourism – Redefining the three S’s” – social inclusion, sustainability, and smart destinations and businesses. (CMC)