The regionå‘s top public sector tourism official has called for a merger of the Caribbeanå‘s public and private sector umbrella organisations, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA).
Jean Holder, secretary general of the CTO
CTO, made the call for the creation of a Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Organisation (CHTO) at the opening this morning of a two-day seminar on best practices in public and private sector cooperation. “Perhaps by the end of this week we should be establishing mechanisms to place the several regional programmes of CTO and CHA, and possibly also of the FCCA (Florida Caribbean Cruise Association) under the microscope,” Mr. Holder told some one hundred delegates gathered at the Accra Beach Resort just outside the Barbados
“We should be placing ourselves in a position to see which of them can be merged in the not too distant future and setting up an agenda towards ultimately turning CTO and CHA into CHTO,” he continued. The secretary general stressed that the two regional tourism bodies came from a single organisation - the Caribbean Tourist Association - more than 50 years ago and that it was time for them to combine their resources to effectively tackle some “realities” facing the region’s largest foreign revenue earner.
He cited some of these realities as the economic crises and uncertainty facing airlines and travel agents; shifting consumer tastes and demands and the dangers that national and regional tourism organisations face of becoming obsolete because of the demand to keep up with the ever-changing world of travel and tourism.
“It is clear that the demarcation of public and private sector roles that existed formerly in tourism no longer applies. In this world of globalisation and consolidation, fragmentation and duplication is the surest recipe for disaster for the Caribbean.
“What a wonderful gift it would be to the Caribbean to present to the people of this region in this decade alone, one viable regional carrier, one regional public and private sector tourism organisation and one singe market and economy.” Simon Suarez, president of CHA, also emphasized the issue of public and private sector cooperation, saying that it was “something both sides of Caribbean tourism have been grappling with” for a number of years as they sought “the right balance.”
Mr. Suarez said that the public and private sectors needed to work together to resolve “some outstanding critical issues” like safety, security, marketing and sustainability in order to reinvigorate the regional travel and tourism industry. “It will take selflessness to seek a common platform with mutual goals to replace independent programmes,” he said.
The two-day Caribbean Seminar on Best Practices in Public/Private Sector Cooperation is aimed at presenting global trends, models and best practices of cooperation and partnerships in order to share experiences on how these can be a way forward to ensure competitiveness and the sustainable development of tourism at destination level.
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