“We Can Use Tourism to Reduce Poverty”
Above: Bahamas Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe last week (Photo: BIS)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Can tourism help reduce poverty in the Caribbean region?
That was one of the question discussed last week at the Small Island Developing States conference in the Bahamas, where Bahamian Tourism Minister Obie Wilchcombe called for a “paradigm economic shift” in the way regional countries view the link between tourism and poverty.
“We can use tourism to reduce poverty, [to make it] easier to trade, to drive food prices down and to travel,” the Tourism Minister said.
Wilchcombe was speaking as part of a panel on “maximizing the local benefits of tourism” at the conference, which was held at the newly-debuted Melia Nassau Beach Resort on Cable Beach.
Globally, the tourism sector accounts for more than 260 million jobs with 40 percent of all travel going to a developing country destination.
Charles Ricardo Benavides, Minister of the Presidency in Costa Rica, who was also on the panel, said sustainable tourism in particular was crucial for tackling the poverty problem.
In Costa Rica, for example, he said sustainable tourism had led to a 3 percent reduction in poverty.
“Sustainable tourism can act as a catalyst for socio-economic development and poverty reduction.,” he said.