By the Caribbean Journal staff
In spite of tourism’s massive contribution to the Gross Domestic Product of the Caribbean, it “does not get the priority attention it deserves” in the Caribbean, according to US Virgin Islands Tourism Commissioner and Caribbean Tourism Organization Chairman Beverly Nicholson-Doty.
The Commissioner, who was speaking to a group of Caribbean diplomats in Brussels this week, said that getting tourism “placed as a priority agenda for our heads of government remains challenging.”
She said that organizations like the Africa-Caribbean and Pacific Group of States list tourism as priority for “fighting the scourge of poverty.”
“So allow me to reiterate that tourism is one of the most powerful tools for poverty alleviation,” she said. “The great thing about tourism is that the consumer is brought to the producer.”
Nicholson-Doty urged diplomats to consider the impact of tourism, particularly on the region’s small businesses.
“Part of this income actually trickles down to many other sectors as the industry reduces poverty by (building) micro and small private companies covering everything from handicraft through to health,” she said.
She said the Caribbean should turn its attention to adding value to the industry, from improving national tourism websites, helping small tourism businesses to market their properties and promoting tourism at the primary school level.
“Caribbean people will argue over many things, but they are unanimous and non-partisan in their commitment to make healthy economies even more robust and profitable,” she said. “We need to see greater commitments from our policy-makers to recognize the true value of tourism to the economy so they, in turn, can ensure national budgets reflect the need to responsibly develop our region’s major economic driver.”