Calls to boost Franco-Caribbean ties

There’s been a strong call for more
French language training through organized exchange programs between
English-speaking Caribbean countries and their French-speaking neighbors.
It has come from Anesia Richards, the communications manager of the St. Vincent and
the Grenadines Ministry of Tourism at the 3rd Tourism Human Resources Conference
being held at the Arawak Hotel here.

Ms. Richards told delegates that language differences were a deterrent to better
relationships between the people of the French and English speaking Caribbean, and
the region’s tourism officials must promote greater emphasis on foreign language
education in order to overcome the barriers.

“When I say foreign language education I don’t just mean in schools,” Ms Richards
said in her contribution to a discussion on strengthening Franco-Caribbean relations
in the tourism sector, “I want to talk about foreign language education in the form
of more exchanges so that students get an opportunity to understand that while
Martinique and Guadeloupe speak French they are really Caribbean.”

However, Jean-Louis Boucard, the director of European Affairs and Cooperation in
Guadeloupe, while not challenging Ms. Richards’ contention, said that the French
Caribbean’s political situation was getting in the way of closer cooperation with
their English neighbors.

He said that the fact that these islands are run by France makes it appear they are
not part of the Caribbean.  But he said he remained confident the relationship would
improve.

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“When you change the natural course of a river, even after a hundred years the river
returns to its natural course, and this is what will happen in terms of
Franco-Caribbean relations.  So do not despair, we will come together,” Mr. Boucard,
one of the panelists, contended.

The plenary on Franco-Caribbean relations was one of several which will take place
during the three day conference.  Other issues being debated include changing
patterns in the world of work; the present and future human resource needs; good
practices in community based tourism; how to develop a tourism programme network and
how to develop instructional material.  A “Sharing Session” will also give delegates
an opportunity to showcase innovative activities and programmes within and outside
the region

More than 75 delegates from across the region are participating in the three-day
conference, organised by the CTO in collaboration with the Guadeloupe Tourist Board,
the Guadeloupe Hospitality Institute and the Regional Council of Guadeloupe.

Themed, “Leading Change in Tourism Within a Dynamic, Global Environment,” the 3rd
Tourism Human Resources Conference targets tourism and hospitality educators,
trainers, human resource professionals/consultants and managers with responsibility
for human resources across the region.

It is funded in part by the European Union within the framework of the Caribbean
Regional Sustainable Tourism Development Programme.

Caribbean Regional Sustainable Tourism Development Programme

The CRSTDP is an eight million euro programme implemented over a three year period,
by CTO, CHA and the Pontificia Universidad Catolica Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) as
implementing agencies.

It gives the opportunity to have the main Caribbean tourism public and private
sector organizations (CTO and CHA) work co-operatively and share responsibilities in
program activities and implementation.

Funded by the European Union, the CRSTDP’s objective is to contribute to making the
Caribbean tourism sector more competitive and more sustainable, contributing to
economic growth and poverty reduction and to fostering the sustainability and
competitiveness of the Caribbean tourism sector through the establishment of a
sustainable development policy framework.
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