2004 stands out in the history of Caribbean tourism as a benchmark year, in terms of growth as well as in the success of its advocacy program to move tourism further up the political agenda in Europe.Twelve months after the first-ever Caribbean tourism policy workshop, hosted in November 2003 by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and following an aggressive agenda of meetings in the United Kingdom and Brussels throughout the year, the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) culminated its advocacy efforts in 2004 with another milestone, the successful meeting between the key senior players of the European Parliament and Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Caribbean tourism industry.
The co-chair of the European Union / African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Joint Parliamentary Assembly - Glenys Kinnock, MEP, presided over the meeting. Sharon Hay-Webster, co-chair for the ACP side, also attended.
“Our goal, going into the meeting, was to sensitise European and ACP parliamentarians to the unique position of tourism as the only path to development for Caribbean communities - and seek their support to ensure that tourism is moved up the EU/ACP policy agenda,” said CHA President and St. Lucia hotelier Berthia Parle, MBE, who noted that Mrs. Kinnock was unequivocal in pointing out that the Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the European Parliament are open to tourism concerns and that CHA could count on their support.
“We came out of the meeting with a clear mission moving into 2005,” added Parle. Parle pointed out that the European Parliament Development Committee will produce a report and hold a hearing on tourism and development next year and that CHA would embark on a campaign to ensure that it was included in the EU’s priorities.
There was consensus on the need to increase awareness in Europe of the central role played by the tourism industry in Caribbean development over the next two years. It was noted that the EU is developing a policy paper on its overall approach to tourism and that the European Parliament will hold a hearing and produce a report on the sector.
In addition, negotiations for an Economic Partnership Agreement between the UK and the Caribbean that may include language on tourism is moving forward; the UK, which is taking an interest in the development of the industry in the region, will take over the rotating presidency of the EU in the second part of 2005.ÊCHA’s full participation in this debate was essential.
Following a CHA presentation on the key facts and figures of the Caribbean tourism industry and its impact on the economic and social welfare of the Caribbean people, the meeting allowed for an open discussion, where the members of the European Parliament present and the Caribbean tourism delegation addressed issues such as the linkages of tourism to rural development, as well as heritage tourism and the importance of niche markets.
In addition to Glenys Kinnock, MEP, EP and Sharon Hay-Webster, also in attendance were Thierry Cornillet, European Parliament’s Development Committee Rapporteur on tourism and development; Michael Wood, Head of the European Parliament’s Development Committee and ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Committee Secretariats, Joao Liete, tourism expert of the of the EP Development Committee and ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Secretariat; Wolfgang Herzig, member of the of the EP Development Committee and ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Secretariat; and Trinidad and Tobago’s EU Ambassador Learie Rousseau, among others.
The CHA delegation included President Berthia Parle, MBE; Alec Sanguinetti, director general and CEO; Alex Titcombe, director of advocacy and research; and David Jessop, executive director of the Caribbean Council.