As the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) marks World Tourism Day on Tuesday, Sept. 27, the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is reflecting on the significant contribution tourism has made to the socioeconomic development of the Caribbean, while focusing on the challenges and opportunities the industry presents for the future.
“Tourism has been the main driver in propelling Caribbean economies; creating new entrepreneurial opportunities; building upward mobility; broadening the skills and ingenuity of our peoples; celebrating and showcasing Caribbean culture, cuisine, nature and entertainment; and improving our capacity to rebound from crises and challenging situations,” said CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig. She added that coming out of the pandemic, tourism stakeholders must utilize the lessons learned to re-imagine the current approach to Caribbean tourism.
Looking ahead, Madden-Greig endorsed remarks from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on the eve of World Tourism Day, who said, “Tourism is a powerful driver for sustainable development. It contributes to the education and empowerment of women and youth, and it advances the socioeconomic and cultural development of communities. It plays a critical part in the social protection systems that form the foundation for resilience and prosperity.
“We must invest in clean and sustainable tourism, lowering the sector’s energy consumption, adopting zero-emission pathways and protecting biodiversity. We must create decent jobs and ensure profits benefit the host country and local communities. Governments, businesses and consumers must align their tourism practices with the Sustainable Development Goals and a 1.5°C future. The very survival of this industry and many tourist destinations, such as small island developing states, depends on it …
“There is no time to waste. Let us rethink and reinvent tourism, and together, deliver a more sustainable, prosperous and resilient future for all.”
As CHTA celebrates its 60th anniversary, Madden-Greig pointed to the correlation between the organization’s broad program of work and successes and the contributions tourism has made to the growth and development of local economies and the Caribbean public.
“Our work in the past has laid a foundation and paved a path to the future. Our challenge today is to build an industry that can adapt to and meet the ongoing and new challenges we face,” she said.
“This includes meeting the challenges of climate change, creating a more inclusive industry, propelling upward mobility through tourism, retaining more of the tourism dollar, using technology to create new opportunities and address rising costs, reinforcing linkages and new entrepreneurial opportunities, addressing our inter-connectivity challenges, and adapting to the changing interests and demands in the marketplace,” Madden-Greig said.
“Tourism contributes more than 40 percent of GDP to most Caribbean economies, with a number of destinations exceeding 60 percent. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Caribbean Economic Impact Report issued last June, the Caribbean can expand tourism’s contribution to GDP, employment and revenue retention and expansion by working together to address the myriad aforementioned challenges,” the CHTA president said.
“We are working on several fronts to help build a better future. Next week public and private sector tourism industry leaders will converge at the region’s largest gathering of stakeholders in Puerto Rico at the Caribbean Travel Forum and Caribbean Travel Marketplace to address both our immediate work towards recovery and our sustained efforts to build a better future. The timing of the World Tourism Day message is appropriate, as it reinforces the essential role tourism can and must play as we look to the future,” Madden-Greig said.
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