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CHTA calls for Caribbean unity

Newly elected president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Patricia Affonso-Dass, has spoken of the need for a cohesive regional approach. (Photo courtesy CHTA)

Thursday, July 26, 2018
Thursday, July 26, 2018

Newly elected president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), Patricia Affonso-Dass (pictured), has spoken of the need for a cohesive regional approach if Caribbean countries are to maximise the benefits of the tourist trade.

Delivering remarks at the Caribbean Hospitality Industry Exchange Forum held in Miami recently, Affonso-Dass called on tourism stakeholders to stay “focused on the critical need to speak with one Caribbean voice, to ensure a facilitative environment for investment, development and growth and to seek out and encourage best practice…

…to ensure that the trickle-down effects of this industry benefit the widest number of our people and has the most positive financial impact.”

The CHTA encompasses 32 member countries, including The Bahamas, and five different languages. Its primary role is to advocate for the region and work with partners to develop and sustain the regional industry.

“We are one Caribbean brand, capable of delivering thousands of fabulous and individually authentic experiences to those who choose to holiday in our region,” said Affonso-Dass. “We are stronger together, we can speak with a louder voice, by combining our individual strengths we have a more compelling story to tell – in the Caribbean the rhythm never stops and tourism is key.”

The Caribbean tourism industry marked a milestone last year – welcoming over 30 million visitors for the first time in the sector’s history. The number of visitor arrivals grew by 1.7 per cent and tourist expenditure totalled $37bn.

However, the industry’s growth was curtailed in late 2017 due to hurricanes Maria and Irma. Tourism in some of the impacted islands fell by as much as 18 per cent.

Affonso-Dass said that during her tenure as CHTA president, she is looking to build horizontal links across industries and improve communication with partners. “I commit to continuing to work to foster and strengthen linkages and partnerships with the public sector, agriculture, manufacturing and other service industries and sectors that are essential to our growth and development.”

She urged everyone in the sector to network, engage, embrace best practices and improve efficiences, saying: “We are leaders – a tourism powerhouse capable of delivering the most memorable experiences, offering warm and genuine hospitality delivered by people who are well-educated and trained and are proud of who they are and where they live.”

A greater emphasis on technology and innovation can help Caribbean countries achieve their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).

The Ministry of Finance is looking to increase the productivity of the Bahamian workforce with a new $50m initiative, partly financed by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

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