“Refreshingly candid and forthright” is how Veronica Stoddart, leisure travel editor of USA Today described the sixth Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) in St. Lucia last month.
“Tough issues, such as racism, servitude, sex, AIDS and their relationship to tourism, were discussed openly and critically by the participants,”
commented Stoddart in her conference report. She joined more than 100 fellow journalists and tourism professionals for four days of “rapid-fire” question
and answer, round-table discussions, and panel and keynote presentations in Rodney Bay Village.
The conference explored tourism’s unique linkages, brought to light the untapped potential of Caribbean tourism as a greater economic force following the unveiling of a sobering presentation by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) on the Impact of Travel and Tourism on Caribbean Jobs
and the Economy.
Tourism was described as the oxygen for regional economic growth by The Honourable Gordon “Butch” Stewart, Chairman of Sandals Resorts and Air
Jamaica, who also called for a reduction in hotel taxes to keep the domestic tourism industry competitive with a booming cruise line sector whose
incidence of taxation is less acute.
While calling for hardball tactics in recognition of the industry’s contribution to regional socio-economic prosperity, delegates and speakers
explored the linkage between HIV/AIDS prevention and tourism, placed tourism beside trade in the region’s political agenda, and formally invited a number
of Caribbean youth to share their opinions on the value of tourism. Youth candidates selected by the United Nations Development Programme’s Barbados office issued a clarion call to formally integrate a tourism component into the school curriculum as a means to prepare younger generations for successful
business futures, and not just entry level tourism jobs.
Calling on delegates to remain firm in their resolve to improving the quality of lives of all the peoples of the Caribbean, St. Lucia’s Prime Minister, Dr. Kenny Anthony wants the dismantling of barriers and focus on how each economic sector including tourism can contribute to long-term development objectives. “There can be no such thing as sustainable tourism without the effective integration and support of all of other sectors,” he said.
“We cannot expect that the private sector will be solely responsible for fostering the growth of the industry,” he added, “without the appropriate
governmental enabling environment and without tangible support from civil society and local communities,” said the first Prime Minister to address