CARICOM to place new focus on Tourism, Bahamas to Host Carifesta in 2010

NASSAU, Bahamas – Caricom will devote a full day during its regular meeting of Heads of Government in July to focus on Tourism, and has agreed for the first time to make Tourism a standard item on all Caricom agendas in view of its importance to the economies of the region, Chairman of Caricom and Bahamas Prime Minister the Rt. Hon. Hubert Ingraham said Saturday night.

Mr. Ingraham also announced that The Bahamas will now host Carifesta in 2010, indicating that Trinidad and Tobago had “graciously agreed” to forgo hosting the regional event for that year.

Additionally, the Caricom Chairman announced that a special session of Heads of Government will be held in Trinidad in April of this year to discuss issues of crime and security.

His statements came during the final press conference of last week’s 19th Caricom Inter-Sessional Meeting held March 7-8 at the Sheraton, Cable Beach Resort, Nassau.

Caricom Secretary General Dr. Edwin Carrington, St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Dr. Denzil Douglas, Jamaica Prime Minister Bruce Golding and Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning also took part in the press conference.

Mr. Ingraham said, “We agreed that we are going to have a special one-day session on tourism at the conference in Antigua in July. Tourism is very important to the Caribbean region and to The Bahamas and our economy, and we are going to seek to bring focus to that issue.”

During his address at the opening ceremony of the 19th Inter-Sessional, the Caricom Chairman expressed hope that a special session on Tourism would be convened in July.

In that address, he pointed to the need to improve regional collaboration and cooperation in areas such as product development, service standards, marketing, eco-tourism and sustainable tourism promotion and development.

“We are going to focus on the aviation and transportation of Tourism, the marketing, branding of the Tourism structure and we are going to seek to create a sustainable economic commission on Tourism. We are [also] going to appoint a task force to produce a report for us prior to the meeting in July.”

During last week’s meetings, Heads agreed to accept the invitation of United States House Ways and Means Chairman, congressman Charles Rangle to hold a meeting in New York in June of this year. That meeting will be held under the theme: New York Conference on the Caribbean Community: 2020 Vision Continued.

Caricom Heads previously met with congressman Rangle in June 2007.

Mr. Ingraham said Heads expect to meet with the Mayor and Governor of New York and with business leaders to discuss trade and investment, culture, education and other issues of interest and concern to the region.

Regarding Carifesta, Mr. Ingraham announced that Trinidad will now host the event in 2012.

Prime Minister Manning said, “Trinidad and Tobago has hosted Carifesta three times since 1992 and our successful bid to host Carfiesta in 2010 would have made it the fourth time that Trinidad and Tobago is hosting Carifesta.

“The Bahamas, which had never hosted Carifesta had expressed an interest in doing so, and in a situation where The Bahamas had never hosted Carifesta and Trinidad and Tobago had hosted it three times, the government of Trinidad and Tobago felt that in the spirit of Caribbean brotherhood it would be a proper gesture to make that slot available to The Bahamas.”

Caricom leaders addressed a number of other pertinent issues during the final Inter-Sessional press conference including progress in the fight against Chronic Non-Communicable Diseases (CNCDs), matters related to the Caricom Single Market and Economy (CSME) and developments in the formation of a regional approach to crime.

Secretary General Carrington touched on developments in one of Caricom’s principal objectives; functional cooperation, and announced the role Mr. Ingraham will play therein.

An important decision was taken by our Heads at the meeting in Barbados in July 2007 to establish a task force on functional cooperation, which is a mode of operation that incorporates activities covering how we cooperate in economic and social affairs, foreign policy and security objectives. [It is] a form of cooperation which we say leads to a community for all,” Dr. Carrington noted.

To pursue that work, a task force was established as well as a sub-committee. The task force, he said, has done its first report and reported to the Inter-Sessional meeting.

The sub-committee is now being put into place,” Dr. Carrington informed. The sub-committee on functional cooperation is to be headed by the Rt. Hon. Prime Minister of The Bahamas, and members will include Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, Suriname and a representative of the associate members of Caricom.”

The Secretary General explained that the sub-committee allows those Caricom countries that do not participate in CSME to play a critical role in the Community.

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