Dame Billie calls for regional campaign

The recipient of this year’s highest honor from the
Caribbean Tourism Organization, the CTO Lifetime Achievement Award, has used
her acceptance speech to make an impassioned plea for a regional campaign to promote
the Caribbean as a single tourist destination.Dame Billie Miller, the Barbados foreign affairs and foreign trade minister, told an
audience of over 700 persons gathered at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel here for the
CTO’s Governments of the Caribbean State Ball, that a joint campaign involving the
public and private sectors is critical if the tourism sector is to become more

“As I did during the years when I presided over the CTO…10 years later, I still want
to appeal to you. A regional advertising or promotional campaign is critical,” Dame
Billie, the first-ever female chair of CTO, told the gathering at the black-tie gala
event. The ball is organized by the CTO each year as part of celebrations for
Caribbean Week in New York to raise funds for the CTO Foundation, which provides
scholarships to Caribbean nationals pursuing studies in tourism and
hospitality-related areas.

Dame Billie chided both the public and private sectors for abandoning the concept
despite a highly successful regional marketing campaign in 1993, which reversed a
downward trend in visitor arrivals from North America. The campaign was approved by
CARICOM heads of government in 1992 and was funded by the public and private
sectors, led by the CTO and the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA). In the meantime,
she said, Hawaii had copied from the Caribbean and was using it successfully.

“We abandoned it, but I think we need to go back, where all the governments - and it
is going to require political will - all the stakeholders put their money into the
regional campaign to profile the Caribbean,” she said. “Hawaii has copied it and is
promoting itself as one destination. How many of you can name five individual
Hawaiian states?”

In the meantime, Dame Billie assured the Caribbean tourism industry that its
interests are being advanced in all regional and international trade negotiations.


“The CARIFORUM (CARICOM and the Dominican Republic) negotiators have advocated that
tourism be treated in a special manner. In this regard, the Regional Negotiating
Machinery (RNM) proposed a special act on tourism be incorporated into the economic
partnership agreement, which will address peculiarities of this sector,” said the
Barbados foreign minister.

She said the RNM collaborates closely with the CTO, the CHA and national tourism
bodies, and that the CTO and the Organization of American States (OAS) have held at
least six training workshops on tourism services negotiations, in addition to
several other seminars and meetings.