Caribbean people gear up for Caribbean Week in New York

NEW YORK – For many years the enthusiasm of Caribbean nationals for boosting the region’s tourism brand has been fueled by the staging of Caribbean Week in New York.

Increasingly, nationals of the region are asking what part can they play and how to get involved in this tourism engine that drives the economies of the region.

At this year’s Caribbean Week in New York (June 9 to 17, 2007), not only will they maintain this enthusiasm, but nationals and visitors alike will have an opportunity to experience the full breadth of Caribbean culture, and hopefully to experience the diversity of the region shortly thereafter.

“The culture of the Caribbean will be demonstrated in various forms during Caribbean Week in New York this year,” noted Hugh Riley, Director of Marketing for the Americas of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) whose team at the new Caribbean Tourism Development Company (CTDC) has planned a Caribbean fair, weddings, cooking demonstrations and other events and activities, including Caribbean beach volleyball, across New York.

An opportunity to pose direct questions and concerns to tourism ministers will be provided during simultaneous Town Hall meetings (co-sponsored by Air Jamaica) in Brooklyn and the Bronx on Monday, June 11.

“We have discovered that nationals are very comfortable with this Town Hall environment because they feel a close connection to their ministers,” Riley said, who added popular personalities in the community will moderate the sessions.

“We have invited six tourism ministers who will give a sense of what’s taking place in their respective countries and entertain a wide range of questions from the audience.” The two meetings will take place at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn and St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in the Bronx from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m.

The Caribbean’s favorite sport, cricket, will also be a part of this year’s celebrations with a celebrity cricket match at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn that will showcase past, present and future stars of West Indies cricket. Some of the celebrated names making an appearance include the successful West Indian opening pair of Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes. The match takes place on Saturday, June 9 and will be an all-day affair.

An added feature to this year’s Caribbean Week New York is a gospel brunch at the Caribbean Island Restaurant in City Island in the Bronx on Sunday, June 10. Enthused by this addition, Riley said “this brunch is in addition to the Gospelfest (the previous day) which has been one of the more popular features of Caribbean Week over the years. In fact, it is because of the great demand for Caribbean spirituality that we have added this brunch to give gospel lovers another opportunity to break bread with the great voices of the Caribbean.”

At both events, patrons will be ministered by top musicians, including internationally acclaimed gospel artist Lieutenant Stitchie; The Grace Thrillers, winners of several international gospel awards; and Gerard Placide, three-time winner of the McDonald’s Gospelfest.

“Caribbean Week New York is an exciting collection of events all aimed at demonstrating the color, culture, food, history and unique vacation offers of the Caribbean,” Riley said. “This year promises to be another exciting affair,” he continued, adding that the CTDC is proud to honor the achievements and contributions of Caribbean nationals by celebrating Caribbean-American Heritage Month in June, and by ensuring that the events of Caribbean Week in New York coincide with this national acknowledgement.

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