Martine DEVERSON / Minister of Tourism of the Republic of Haiti - We, in Haiti, are pleased to be part of this celebration which offers new opportunities to the Caribbean Region given the positive benefits it stands to gain from a tourism respectful of our culture, our environment and our fragile ecosystem.
Moreover, the theme Ç Tourism, a tool for sustainable development È speaks to the active involvement of local communities for the conservation of the environmental assets of the ecosystem and for the socio-cultural integrity of the host communities.
In this respect, we need to see this event as an opportunity to put the citizens of each of our Caribbean islands at the centre of our concerns. We must reflect on the role that each and everyone of us has to play in order for tourism to become a valuable tool for sustainable development.
Priority must be given to inter-regional cooperation in our development policies. This will promote a better understanding and will strengthen the historical and cultural linkages that bind us together.
I take the opportunity to remind you that beginning next year, we will begin the observance of the Bicentennial of Haiti’s Independence, a historical highlight that brought about the creation of the First Black State in the World. Two hundred years ago, this unique event put the Caribbean Region in the limelight and in History for its fight for human rights, focal point of the sustainable development of the tourism sector.
This event, which has changed the course of humanity’s history will, in 2004, make the entire Caribbean region and particularly the Republic of Haiti a must see tourism destination. Therefore, we must take this opportunity to put in place programmes for ‘paths of knowledge’ which highlight this part of the history of our Region that goes beyond the Republic of Haiti and associates all the islands of the Caribbean.
On this Caribbean Tourism Day, I encourage you, people of the Caribbean, to work relentlessly, and in solidarity, toward the prosperity of each of our fellow countrymen and I urge you, as well as our guests, to share and to relive with the Haitian people this page of history which will remain opened on April 7th, 2003, date of the Remembrance of the Bicentennial of the death of Toussaint Louverture, Haitian Hero of universal dimension, who has written the first chapter of this great epic of the black people.