The Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) launched Caribbean Week 2003 on Sunday with an exciting display of the regionå‘s diverse spiritual and cultural heritage.
Some 600 dignitaries, tourism officials, religious and cultural leaders and members of the Caribbean diaspora filled the St. George’s Episcopal Church in East New York for an interfaith celebration dubbed “Lets Give Thanks.”
Billed as a celebration of Caribbean life and times, the service was an energetic exhibition of dance, poetry, singing and music by a number of Caribbean-American performers spanning several generations.
“It was a powerful exposition of the talent and diversity of the Caribbean and of the commitment to the region that people still have even in their adopted homeland,” said Hugh Riley, CTO’s director of marketing for the Americas.
The interfaith service was also in celebration of the contribution that Caribbean people have made to the development of the City of New York, Jean Holder, secretary general of CTO added.
Mr. Holder also called on US political leaders to recognise this contribution in a tangible manner.
“It is important that Americans should know, and that American political leaders especially should know, that Caribbean people for almost a century have helped to shape the destiny of this city, to enrich its cultural, intellectual, business and political life,” said Mr. Holder to the audience, which included Dennis Walcott the deputy mayor of New York city and himself of Caribbean heritage. “And at the policy level ways and means must always be found to recognize this contribution in concrete terms.”
An estimated two million people, one in every four New Yorkers, can trace their roots to the Caribbean, according to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. And in a message to CTO, read by Mr. Walcott, the mayor said that Caribbean Week would not only “strengthen the bond between New York and the Caribbean” but that it would also “celebrate the tourism industry that is so important to both our economies.”
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