By Bevan Springer, Amsterdam NewsDr. Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, told Caribbean tourism industry professionals that there is relevance for both land- and cruise-based tourism strategies in the Caribbean, and called for diligent discussion between stakeholders on the robust development of balanced and sustainable cruise tourism.Delivering the feature address at the opening of the 12th annual Florida Caribbean Cruise Conference and Trade Show, taking place at St. Kitts Marriott Resort, Dr. Douglas spoke of the importance of tourism on which almost 15 percent of Caribbean GDP and 2.4 million jobs depend.
“It is clear to me that sustaining this kind of potential and history must be important to all stakeholders. I can do no less therefore than to urge greater dialogue between the FCCA (Florida Caribbean Cruise Association), the Caribbean public and private sectors and other stakeholders so that the best possible conditions could be created in support of the cruise industry and in support of the continued development of Caribbean destinations,” he said.
Hotels and cruise lines have had a tense relationship through the years, however, the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA), the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association have recently tried to smooth the waters and find ways in which hotels, farmers and business people can mutually benefit from the massive and profitable cruise industry. CHA’s president Berthia Parle and newly installed CTO
Secretary General Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace are in St. Kitts for the conference.
The Prime Minister called for closer links between cruise lines and the agricultural sector of Caribbean countries. “It is a natural link and I am sure that a workable mechanism can be found for Caribbean countries to become consistent suppliers of quality agricultural produce for cruise lines serving the Caribbean. Whatever strategic alliances are developed, they must work for the good of all concerned, including the expectations of cruise
travelers and their destinations.”
The President of the Republic of China on Taiwan, Chen Shiu-bian, who arrived here Tuesday afternoon on a two-day state visit, also addressed the opening ceremony on Wednesday morning.
He described the Caribbean as one of the world’s best travel destinations and encouraged tourism exchanges between this region and the 23 million people of his nation.
More than 1,000 delegates, including top cruise line executives, ministers and commissioners of tourism are attending the conference. The president of Colombia is also expected before the close on Friday.