By Felicia Persaud
News Americas, FRIGATE Bay, St. Kitts, Thurs. Oct. 11, 2012: Congresswoman, Dr. Donna M. Christian-Christensen, (D – VI), is urging regional tourism stakeholders to unite more to fight the challenges facing the region’s tourism sector.
The congresswoman, delivering the key note speech at the opening ceremony of the annual Caribbean Tourism Organization’s, State of the Industry Conference in St. Kitts last night, said the Caribbean is facing many challenges, including the eminent shutdown of American Eagle, crime, gangs and drugs; economic inequality, rise in energy costs, climate change and competition from destinations like Latin America, Cuba and the Middle East.
As such, Dr. Christensen said Caribbean governments must give tourism its full attention.
“Tourism cannot be a separate, isolated issue. It has to be an integral part of government policy,” said the congresswoman. “We have to do this as a region; together. We must pool our resources and influence and do this together.”
Outgoing Chair of the CTO and Minister of Tourism and Transportation, Ricky Skerritt, agreed. In his final address to delegates as chair before he hands over the chairmanship to the USVI’s Commissioner and incoming chair, Beverly Richardson-Doty, he agreed that “it is our local and regional tourism stakeholders who together squarely shoulder the responsibility for attracting visitors.”
“Too many of our enterprises still operate as if we just need to open our doors and consumers will show up,” said Skerritt. “Our market research – and actual experience – has shown that collaborative public and private sector marketing action, on behalf of the Caribbean brand, is our best hope for growing the Caribbean’s share of the global travel market.”