The Caribbean tourism policy workshop hosted on November 6 and 7, 2003, by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is expected to move tourism further up the political agenda in Europe and the Caribbean.
The regional tourism private sector delegation, led by the President of the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) Simón Suárez, noted that the conference had offered a first ever opportunity to CHA to make in Europe a significant contribution to the multi-lateral exchange of views on the challenges that the Caribbean tourism industry faces and the search for solutions. “CHA is fully committed to follow up with specific actions on behalf of the Caribbean tourism private sector,” said Suárez.
The CHA President expressed gratitude to the conference chairman, Bill Rammell, the Minister responsible for Britain`s relations with the Caribbean. “We were delighted with the way he focused on the concrete areas where the UK government might be able to assist our industry,” said Suárez.
In bringing the two-day meeting to closure, the Hon. Minister Rammell undertook to examine the following proposals with his colleagues within the British Government:
A study on the taxation of Caribbean tourism, to be based on the principle that tourism is an export industry;
A study on the development of a regional cruise policy, to include proposals to integrate the cruise sector with land-based tourism and to assess the environmental impact of cruise tourism in the Caribbean;
The establishment of a “Friends of Tourism” group at the World Trade Organization (WTO), for coordinating positions in the GATS services negotiations on tourism;
The funding of a tourism specialist within the Caribbean Regional Negotiating Machinery (CRNM);
Identification of funding possibilities to enhance regional marketing.
Suárez stressed that in particular, the two proposed studies are highly relevant and urgent. “Regarding the study on taxation, the private sector view is that the objective of this work should be to identify measures to increase the global competitiveness of our industry by considering issues such as profitability, investment incentives, operating costs as well as taxation,” he said.
The CHA also made the case for the political support of the UK on a number of proposals: advocating for an urgent revision of the European Commission`s policy on promoting tourism in African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries, to take account of the fundamental changes in the global tourism marketplace; the positioning of Caribbean tourism as a recipient of European Development Fund (EDF) resources for programs aimed at sustainable tourism development; and the establishment of a Tourism Investment Fund to harness the capital resources of the region.
Following the meeting, the CHA wrote to Minister Rammell and anticipates meeting with UK Government officials and the European Commission early in 2004 to pursue the outcome of the meeting.
The meeting marked the first-ever policy workshop on tourism to be held by any European government. Its broad objective was to better understand how tourism relates to European policy towards the Caribbean and how tourism can be made more central to the political, economic and development policy dialogue between all European Union capitals, the European Commission, and the Caribbean. The event brought together representatives from CHA and CTO, along with Caribbean ministers and many senior figures from the tourism industry in the United Kingdom, as well as British Ministers, senior officials from the UK Government and the European Commission.
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