The Caribbean’s three regional tourism organizations, the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA), the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) have joined forces to pursue cooperative efforts in the best interest of Caribbean tourism.
They have established the Caribbean Tourism Facilitation Committee (CTFC), a standing committee that will meet on a regular basis, with an agreed agenda. It will ensure the closest possible consultation on policy issues and programmes and seek to reach agreement on issues before they escalate into public controversy.
The committee will address weighty issues such as programmes aimed at converting cruise ship passengers into stay-over visitors; exploring a system of joint purchasing of provisions and items common to hotels and cruise lines that would benefit all parties from volume purchasing; developing new joint regional marketing initiatives for approval by the three organizations; and revisiting proposals to create a Regional Sustainable Tourism Development Fund.
“This collective effort is a true milestone in the development of the Caribbean tourism industry,” said CHA President B. Simón Suárez. “The possibilities of what our three organizations can achieve together are endless.”
“The FCCA’s mandate has well established its work in partnership with the private and public sectors of the Caribbean. Therefore, this initiative is long overdue,” added Michelle Paige, President of FCCA.
The working group was formed at a meeting on April 19th in The Bahamas, hosted by the Minister of Tourism and CTO Chairman, Hon. Obie Wilchcombe. CTO was represented by Secretary General Jean Holder, Hugh Riley, director of marketing for the Americas, and Arley Sobers, director of research and information management. Ms. Paige, and Stephen Nielsen, chairman of the FCCA’s security operations committee and vice president for Caribbean and Atlantic Shore operations for Princess Cruises, represented the cruise industry, while the CHA delegation was composed of Mr. Suárez; President-Elect Berthia Parle, and Director General Alec Sanguinetti.
“The agreement reached by CTO, CHA and the FCCA at the Bahamas meeting is historic in Caribbean tourism relations,” stated Mr. Holder. “The power of these three organizations working together has the potential to revolutionize Caribbean tourism in the best interest of Caribbean people.”
The three organizations agreed to undertake joint research and to share research information and customer satisfaction surveys, as well as other data relevant to improving the Caribbean’s tourism products and services and to work with Caribbean countries and suppliers to upgrade the product and enhance the quality of the tourism experience. In addition, the organizations will collaborate in a number of current and new programmes such as preparations for the 2007 Cricket World Cup as it relates to the tourism industry; service quality; information technology; trade in tourism services negotiations; Caribbean environmental programmes and joint representation on delegations to CARICOM meetings. The Committee will have representation at the Board of Directors of both CHA and CTO.
The commitment by the CHA, CTO and FCCA to strengthen their relationship through the establishment of the Caribbean Tourism Facilitation Committee for the betterment of tourism in the Caribbean underscores the growing importance of tourism in the Caribbean region,” noted Mr. Nielsen. “These three organizations working together have the opportunity to truly make a difference in the lives of everyone involved in Caribbean tourism as well create new opportunities for those who have historically not been involved.”
CTO Chairman Hon. Obie Wilchcombe, who has always promoted the role of inter-agency collaboration, welcomed the agreement as the beginning of a new phase in Caribbean tourism development and expressed his confidence in the ability of this tripartite committee to push Caribbean tourism to a new level.