High Caribbean air fare affecting youth travel

BARBADOS – High airfares are grounding the development of future air travelers, asserts a young travel expert.

A former Junior Minister of tourism from the island of Barbados laments the high cost of intra-Caribbean travel is hindering efforts to develop a youth travel market.

Javon Griffith, designated Junior Minister of Tourism of Barbados in 2004-2005, said the cost of travel is spiraling out of control and gone are the days when a round-trip between Barbados to Trinidad costs you US$140. “The continuing increase in the cost of travel is limiting the ability of the Caribbean to develop a youth travel market,” said Griffith who believes youth in the Caribbean need to be educated from an early age about the importance of tourism to an island’s economy.

“They need to understand that without the contribution of tourism to the Caribbean, the region would be rendered economically non-viable. Furthermore, they need to understand that this is why it is argued so often that the Caribbean is the most tourism dependent region in the world,” said the 20 year-old Griffith who completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality & Tourism Management from the University of the West Indies this month.

Griffith, who works as a part-time server at the Fish Pot Restaurant in Barbados, said affordable travel options help to shape the youth’s world view and address their need to understand “the scope of tourism’s impacts, the level of job creation and the valuable foreign exchange to be earned from the sector.”

“Our young people need to understand the value of being employed in the sector – they should feel proud to know that they are making a contribution to the development of their country,” he said.

A member of the Barbados Environmental Youth Programme, Griffith will attend next week’s Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) in San Juan, Puerto Rico (May 15 to 19, 2008) along with a number of youth delegates from across the Caribbean and North America.

“CMEx will help us understand tourism’s various impacts on the socio-cultural, environmental and economic spheres of the areas where it is developed. It will match the principles of sustainable tourism to the every day practices and act as a mouthpiece as well as an engine towards making tourism more sustainable in the Caribbean ,” he hoped.

At CMEx in San Juan, reporters, editors, young people, and marketing and development specialists will interact over four days with representatives of the hospitality sector, civil society and government to explore the theme “Embracing the Diaspora, Connecting Communities.” Key is examining how tourism can improve the health, wealth, environment and culture of destinations.

The upcoming CMEx meeting, produced by Counterpart International and hosted by the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, is supported by Almond Resorts, American Eagle/Executive Airlines, Association of Caribbean Media Workers, The Barbara Pyle Foundation, Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, Bay Gardens Resorts, Bermuda Department of Tourism, Black Entertainment Television (BET J), Caribbean Broadcasting Union, Caribbean Tourism Development Company (CTDC), Caribbean World News Network, Choice Hotels International, Coco Resorts, Counterpart Caribbean, Harry Edwards Jewellers, Jamaica Tourist Board, La Concha – A Renaissance Resort, Mayberry Investments Ltd., Ruder Finn, SpeakEasy M.E.D.I.A., Spirit Airlines, Tourism Development Company Limited of Trinidad and Tobago, and the St. Lucia Tourist Board.

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