Season’s Greetings to all our members, partners and friends!
2002 has been an extraordinary year for the tourism sector, not just among the 32 member states of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), but globally. The industry continued to feel the impact from the September 11th, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington. Millions of jobs were lost and every sub-sector of the industry struggled to survive.
The events of September 11, 2001, were followed by terrorist attacks in Tunisia, Yemen, Bali, and Kenya in 2002, thereby slowing down the recovery process for Caribbean and global tourism. The ongoing war on terrorism, the threat of war in Iraq and the unstable situation in one of our member countries, Venezuela complicate matters.
But there are signs of hope as the region tries to fight its way back to economic health. Arrivals from the last quarter of 2002 are expected to show significant increases when compared to 2001 given that the steep declines of the last four months of 2001 are not likely to be repeated in 2002.
On another front, the region’s public and private sectors together created a regional Tourism Strategic Plan which seeks to guide us on our way over the next 10 years and which has a vision of a Caribbean tourism industry that is fully understood and embraced by the peoples of the region. Caribbean Community governments endorsed the Plan at their annual summit which was held in Guyana in July 2002.
The public and private stakeholders in the industry also undertook a television advertising campaign in the United States aimed at attracting more US visitors to our shores. The next phase of this campaign is set to begin in January 2003.
CTO held its 25th Annual Caribbean Tourism Conference (CTC 25) in the Bahamas in October 2002. An audience of some 1000 delegates heard the Prime Minister of the Bahamas and other well-known experts speak to the theme of Reinventing Caribbean Tourism. The Board of Directors also took the first step towards reinventing CTO with the establishment of a working committee. This committee will meet in January to discuss the way forward for the organisation and how to make it more relevant to its members.
It is heartening to say that I am optimistic about the future of Caribbean tourism and I am hopeful that the New Year will be one of joy and peace for all our members, friends and supporters.
Happy holidays, everyone!