An international correspondent, author and communications expert wants to see Caribbean governments move swiftly to implement a master plan for sustainable tourism in the Caribbean, including the sustained marketing of the region as a single destination.
New York-based Ian Williams said that action on sustainable tourism would give momentum to agreements reached at the 1994 United Nations Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States in Barbados. “The Caribbean is in an excellent position to demonstrate to the world community that while official development assistance for island nations declines, the region can take responsibility for its own development with a united approach,” said Williams, who is covering the 10 year review process of the Barbados conference, to be held in Mauritius next year.
Williams, a two-time president of the United Nations Correspondent Association, is impressed that Caribbean governments and private sector partners were able to launch a multi-million dollar campaign to market the region with a single voice in the aftermath of terrorist attacks on America, but cautioned, “this kind of collaboration has to take the initiative, not just react to events,” fearing that future inaction could lead to the weakening of the region`s number one foreign exchange generator.
Williams, who is a member of the Washington DC-based Counterpart International team which produces the biannual Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx), said he would like to see joint regional action that also promotes local ownership in the tourism industry, action that protects the region`s fragile environment, uses agricultural resources to tap local, regional and international niche markets, and action that encourages the development and use of sustainable energy sources, and ensures cheaper intra-island and international telecoms links. “If the Caribbean can take action in these areas, I think the international community will be willing to allocate funds to ensure these model programmes are sustainable and replicated in other small island states around the world.”
CARICOM heads of government have reiterated the importance of the tourism sector to the Caribbean economy. In this context, they recently reaffirmed the need to establish a Sustainable Tourism Development Fund to facilitate the implementation of a strategic plan for tourism, and supported the effort to mobilize the resources for the Fund. “It`s time for action,” Williams stressed.
Williams, a native of Liverpool, has been a regular contributor in Britain to the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Daily Telegraph, the European, The Observer, The Independent, The Sunday Herald and to magazines such as Tribune, the New Statesman, and Punch. He has also been a columnist for the New York Observer and New York magazine and can be seen on broadcast cable networks, such as ABC, BBC, CBC, CNN, Fox and MSNBC, providing insight on international issues. He is the author of the book “UN for Beginners”.
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