The World Tourism Organization (WTO) expressed its grave concern regarding the recent devastation in the tourism sector caused by several hurricanes in the Caribbean and offered its full support to the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) Relief Fund for its member States affected by the natural disasters on Wednesday.
The CTO, the region’s tourism development agency, and a WTO Affiliate Member, has recently undertaken to provide relief to member countries affected by Hurricanes Frances and Ivan, launching the Caribbean Tourism Organisation Relief Fund to provide monetary assistance to the impacted region.
The worst hit countries are Grenada and the Cayman Islands, while Barbados, St. Vincent and Grenadines, Jamaica and Cuba, also suffered heavy damage. Hurricane Ivan killed dozens of people and left thousands homeless as it crossed the region.
“The Caribbean islands heavily depend on tourism,” stressed Francesco Frangialli, WTO’s Secretary-General, “tourism represents in some of them 30, 40 or an even greater percentage of the gross domestic product”. “The natural disaster hit them at a time, when the majority of the islands were experiencing great tourism growth, after a few difficult years. We are very concerned about the people, their lives and future, which depends in large on the soundness of the region’s infrastructure,” the Secretary-General underlined.
“The World Tourism Organization joins the other United Nations agencies in expressing their solidarity to countries hit by the hurricanes. We offer our full support and vast knowledge of the tourism development and crisis communications in the wake of the natural disasters and we call upon the international tourism community to show solidarity and contribute financial help to the region impacted by this higher force,” Mr. Frangialli stated.
“We are also confident that the governments, tour operators and the people of the Caribbean will assure a quick recovery. Very soon tourists will flock once more to their beautiful islands,” the Secretary-General concluded.