As Caribbean leaders prepare for the 24th CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in Montego Bay, Jamaica next month (July 2-5, 2003), Josef Forstmayr, the outgoing president of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), is amplifying recent calls for the region to work more closely together.
Forstmayr addressed the annual general meeting of the JHTA recently, and media reports say he emphasised that “we continue to pay lip service but not give the attention needed to achieve meaningful integration.” He reminded the region`s leaders that, “integration does not require you to give up your identity, and the whole will be stronger than its individual parts”.
Allen Chastanet, chairman of the Caribbean Hotel Association`s (CHA) Marketing Committee and whose airline Air Jamaica is an active member of the CHA Charitable Trust (CHACT), agreed with the hotelier`s comments, stressing that regional tourism collaboration is fundamental to economic growth and social development in the Caribbean. He is encouraged that tourism officials are beginning to take the business of tourism cooperation more seriously and hoped that the unity that Forstmayr calls for will be strengthened at the Montego Bay Summit.
“I am particularly pleased by a recent move by regional tourism officials (at meetings in New York) to take action in the area of cooperative marketing. Hopefully, they can convince the heads to support the simple yet revolutionary proposals that are on the table,” said Chastanet, who is
Air Jamaica`s Vice President of Marketing and Sales.
Alec Sanguinetti, CHA`s Director-General agreed, emphasizing that tourism was still a major, if not the main contributor to the Caribbean during the post September 11 period, which included a war in Iraq and a slow US economy. “The Caribbean region is in a great position to fuel growth in the tourism industry. With a united front and pooling of resources, we will be equipped to benefit from the numerous opportunities this industry offers,” he commented.
Only last week, the Caribbean Hotel Association hosted the annual Caribbean Hotel Industry Conference (CHIC), themed “The Unconventional Convention” in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.
This year`s conference was critically important for stakeholders who discussed the industry`s state of affairs. “The good thing is that there appears to be an upturn in the market, and hopefully we can develop some meaningful ideas on how to generate new business,” said Sanguinetti.
Last autumn, the Caribbean Hotel Association Charitable Trust (CHACT) launched a US$16 million campaign to market and promote the Caribbean as a single destination. The Trust, a public/private sector alliance, unites major hotel chains, airlines and credit card companies with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, and with both CARICOM and non-CARICOM nations.
Gocaribbean.com allows the region to play a full role in the entire distribution channel of Caribbean vacations, rather than just focusing on the delivery of a product. Consumers and travel agents alike can now book airlines, hotels and other Caribbean properties at bulk or heavily discounted rates.
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