Bahamas’ Christie gains fans after recent speech on tourism
By Dana Niland
Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie’s recent speech underscoring the importance of tourism to the regional economy is finding support from the region’s hotel industry.
The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association commended Christie, the outgoing CARICOM Chairman, for his speech at the recent Heads of Government Meeting, in which he highlighted the tourism industry as the best hope for alleviating youth unemployment and high national debts plaguing the region’s countries.
Christie’s speech “clearly demonstrates that you share our belief that tourism has the ability to shape our economies in order to deliver the quality of life that our citizens desire and the social benefits that our communities require,” CHTA President Emil Lee wrote in a letter.
In the Prime Minister’s remarks, Christie also referenced the recent CHTA white paper, “Cuba The Great Disruption for the Good of the Caribbean,” which has generated significant buzz in news outlets around the region as the US and Cuba move closer to opening tourism their lanes.
“We expect that CARICOM adopting an aggressive tourism platform would serve as an impetus for the greater Caribbean nations to embrace tourism as the key to employment for each nations’ citizens and the launch of cruise vacations between the U.S. and Cuba should serve as a catalyst to get our governments to finally fund a sustainable Regional Marketing Campaign to elevate the image of all countries in the Caribbean to compete globally,” Lee said.
The CHTA has called for a meeting with the Caribbean Tourism Organization and incoming CARICOM Chairman Minister Freundel Stuart in order to develop a tourism action agenda, which would include items such as establishing a Caribbean basin tourism initiative, reducing energy and travel costs, and marketing the Caribbean brand, among other issues.