Berthia Parle, President of the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA), says that Caribbean media houses and the regional private sector need to recognise more the important role that tourism plays in the development of Caribbean economies.
However, she added that she was heartened to hear Sir Dwight Venner, Governor of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) recently underscore tourism’s key contribution to the region’s economic growth.
She hopes more private sector entities, especially those which benefited greatly from the industry, would repay that boost from tourism by investing some of their profits in events like the Caribbean Media Exchange which is geared to educate journalists about the true value of the industry.
Parle contended if more regional journalists recognise the importance of tourism to the economies of the Caribbean, they could then be in a position to convince many more people through their reporting that this is the key industry for the region’s economic survival.
“The Caribbean is right for investment and we are now moving in a more concerted way into the arena of sports tourism ... they would need to understand what this means and the other logistics of tourism,” she noted.
“This is a complex industry and some people understand that while others don’t. It is a fragile industry but also a very resilient one - the recent Hurricanes proved that, as we were down for all of two to three days but we maintained our resilience and were soon up and running again,” Parle explained.
Parle said that CHA, and the producers of CMEx - Counterpart International and Counterpart Caribbean - were playing their part in bringing more information to Caribbean journalists through CMEx and CHA’s three annual conferences.
“We now have a group who we think are now sufficiently educated, based on information that has been imparted, to know that tourism is the lifeblood of the economies of the region and they understand what it means to communicate that information to other institutions and peoples of the region,” she said.
She called on utility, accountancy, banking and insurance companies, which were reaping the bulk of the benefits from the industry to be honest and admit that tourism was by far the major contributor to their bottom line. She urged their board members and executives to give something back.