The importance of the New York market to the region’s tourism industry is being highlighted as the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) hosts its annual week of activities, dubbed Caribbean Week, here in New York.
“It is fitting that Caribbean ministers and directors of tourism and other tourism leaders meet here for this important week of activities not only because this is where two million people of Caribbean origin call home and have made their mark, but because the state of New York is our most important source of visitations to the Caribbean,” Arley Sobers, CTO’s acting secretary general told approximately 350 people gathered Sunday at the St. George’s Episcopal Church in East New York for an “interfaith celebration” to launch Caribbean Week 2005.
Over two million of the approximately 10 million United States visitors who travelled to the Caribbean in 2004 came from New York, Mr Sobers revealed.
The interfaith celebration was an energetic exhibition of dance, poetry, singing and music by a number of Caribbean-based and Caribbean American performers spanning several generations.
“This ceremony is testimony to both the spirituality and the tremendous talent of our Caribbean peoples,” said Pamela C. Richards, commissioner of tourism for the U.S Virgin Islands and chairman of CTO.
“We are pleased that not only have our CTO members from the region come here today, but that Caribbean nationals living in New York and nearby have joined us in a splendid show of Caribbean unity to celebrate our collective faith,” she told the congregation.
Ms. Richards also spoke of the difficult times that some CTO member states experienced as a result of natural disasters that affected them last year and expressed confidence that they would recover fully.
“We are resilient people and we have survived; we have so much to be thankful for and we pray that those whose lives were touched with upheaval are well on the way to full recovery,” the CTO chairman said.
“In this place, at this time it is good to remember that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger; and we are stronger, we are more unified,” she said to applause.
“We are Caribbean people and we remain fully cognizant that it is our way to laugh at life not cry over it.”