BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – As the Caribbean’s tourism development agency, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) plays a vital role in the region’s development.
The organisation is charged with undertaking a wide range of programmes on behalf of the people of the Caribbean. These programmes include events and activities that market the region: human resource development, sustainable tourism development, research, crisis communications, public relations, Information Technology and advocacy, among others.
The CTO is a complex organization – over 30 countries at varying stages of tourism development, four main languages and a perfect blend of cultures. But the organization brings us all together under one umbrella, as One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean.
As the Authority on Caribbean tourism statistics – every credible statistic on visitor arrivals to, and spend in, the Caribbean has the CTO stamp on it – it is our responsibility to keep you abreast of how our region is performing. This is what we are here to share with you today. But before we do, I’ll share with you some key events that the CTO will host this year.
In the immediate future, there’s the 13th Annual Sustainable Tourism Conference which will be held in Guyana from 15th to 18th April. Barbados hosted this conference two years ago.
S-T-C is a very important conference that tackles issues that are at the foundation of our industry. Issues of sustainability and product development, as well as how to engage our communities and ensure that they benefit from tourism. This year’s conference theme, Keeping the Right Balance: Sustaining our Resources, speaks directly to these very issues.
I’m pleased that the former Guyana president, Bharrat Jagdeo, a Caribbean champion for the mitigation of climate change, has agreed to be the keynote speaker at STC.
In keeping with its mandate to develop tourism human resources, the CTO introduced a human resources conference a few years ago. The 6th annual Tourism Human Resources Conference will be held right here in Barbados from the 23rd to the 25th of May. This year’s conference has at its theme: “Enhancing Caribbean Tourism Human Resources through Partnerships and Innovation,” and will bring together Tourism Human Resource Professionals from the public and private sector, tourism educators/trainers and consultants to share strategies and best practices and provide more technical information on certain aspects of tourism and tourism development. It will be held in collaboration with the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus and the Barbados Hospitality Institute – Hotel PomMarine.
Two other major events that I’d like you to put on your calendar: Caribbean Week in New York, which is a celebration of all the vacation attributes of the Caribbean. It will be held from the 3rd to the 9th of June.
A press release on the programme for Caribbean Week in New York will follow the news conference; Secondly, the State of the Industry Conference, which will be held in St. Kitts from 11th to 13th October. CTO is planning a programme and you’ll get further details soon.
In addition, CTO has done a fine job of advocacy on behalf of the Caribbean. The lobbying effort on the issue of Air Passenger Duty has been the most high profile and extensive lobbying campaign in the history of Caribbean tourism. The Caribbean led on this issue. The fact that the British Chancellor of the Exchequer and his ministers specifically mentioned the Caribbean’s position on several occasions demonstrates recognition of the lobbying effort. The fact that the UK government ignored the Caribbean’s case, is a failure on the part of the British Government. This is a matter on which the CTO will continue its efforts. You can also look forward to more of this sort of work this year, as we interact with the European Union and members of the European Parliament in Brussels.