Forget what you`ve heard å- tourism is and will continue to sustain Caribbean economies and its people.
Addressing the Fourth Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx)
in Montego Bay recently, Vernice Walkine, Bahamas` Deputy Director of Tourism asserted that tourism is more resilient and more reliable in its returns than many other global businesses affected by vagaries of supply and demand. “Still we are suspicious of its capacity to sustain our economies and to sustain our people,” Walkine said, despite, she pointed out, “overwhelming evidence to the contrary”.
Walkine told the media and tourist industry delegates who gathered at Half Moon
Montego Bay that this suspicion about the long term viability and sustainability of national and regional tourism leads to self-limiting and self-destructive behaviour on the part of governments, and consequently on the part of the region`s people. “The most destructive practice of the peoples and nations of the Caribbean is our lack of interest in attracting the best of our citizens to that sector of our economies with the best potential,” she said. Instead tourism had become “the employer of last resort.” “What we now need to do is lead our best people to this industry, provide them with the best training and retraining and build and maintain the best products.”
tourism planner called on industry officials to foster a stronger spirit of private and public sector collaboration by working from the same business plan, even though each side might have a different emphasis. “In the absence of such a coherent plan, there is a considerable waste of resources,” she said, calling for “high level” action to address this issue. With the public and private sector executing their respective roles, Walkine believes that a strong hotel sector will evolve. It is government`s responsibility to provide a politically and socially stable climate and investor friendly environment, paving the way for a successful private sector that offers value for money.
According to Jean-Claude Baumgarten, president of the World Travel and Tourism Council, travel and tourism is the world`s largest generator of wealth and jobs: “Travel and tourism benefits everyone, making a positive, growing and sustainable contribution to the prosperity, understanding and well-being of people, shared by those who travel and the communities they visit, and their natural, social and cultural environments.”
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