CTO:Disasters present opportunities for Caribbean to build back better
The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) says the setbacks caused by natural disasters present a very powerful opportunity for the Caribbean to ‘build back better’.
In the organisation's World Tourism Day message, Neil Walters, Acting General Secretary, said the hurricanes in the last four years make it clear that the time to act is now.
"It is important to ensure climate adaptation and resilience of the sector, for the Caribbean to secure and maintain tourism's role and capability as an engine for social and economic growth, the generator of jobs and the foundation of a future for all.
"We have to do our own critical analysis, and in some cases, rebuild this important industry by ensuring the optimal use of social, natural, cultural and financial resources on an equitable and self-sustaining basis. The setbacks caused by these natural disasters present a very powerful opportunity for us to ‘build back better’, to borrow the slogan made popular by one of our members after the hurricanes in 2017," he said.
The CTO said tourism is the region's primary money earner, with the Caribbean welcoming an estimated 30.2 million international tourists and 29.3 million cruise visits in 2018, generating approximately US$39.3 billion in revenue for regional economies.
"The sector provides a myriad of opportunities to enrich the lives of residents. It drives meaningful employment, investment and entrepreneurial initiatives, contributes to sustainable alternative livelihoods and supports community development, which has importantly begun to include development in rural and traditionally marginalised communities.
"At our recently held Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development (STC) in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we heard from various indigenous and other community presenters how sustainable tourism enterprises continue to act as conduits for social transformation by providing a means for women’s empowerment, youth engagement in meaningful work and contributing to poverty alleviation in communities such as the Charles Town Maroon community in Jamaica, Rewa village in Guyana, and Hopkins Village in Belize. We also heard from The Bahamas how its People to People programme makes such a difference to the lives of Bahamians who host and connect with visitors," Walters said.