PM challenges CARICOM tourism ministers to come up with new plan to grow regional tourism

GROS ISLET, ST. LUCIA– Prime Minister the Most Hon. Dr. Hubert Minnis urged CARICOM tourism leaders to explore new ways that the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) can more effectively work with member countries to contribute to the growth of tourism in the region.

Prime Minister Minnis is the representative for tourism in CARICOM’s Quasi-Cabinet.

The Prime Minister and Allen Chastanet, the Prime Minister of St. Lucia and CARICOM Chairman, met with ministers of tourism and senior officials on Tuesday evening, ahead of Wednesday’s specially convened meeting of the CTO Council of Tourism ministers and commissioners.

“Prime Minister Chastanet and I challenged CARICOM ministers of tourism to develop a strategy paper on how member countries might use the resources presently available to us to execute research,” said Prime Minister Minnis.

“It is only through the use of empirical data that we will be able to effectively implement marketing and productive development strategies that will improve our tourism products and better the lives of our citizens.”

The CTO acts as the region’s tourism development agency. Its vision is to “position the Caribbean as the most desirable, year-round, warm weather destination.”

While marketing the region has always been a major pillar of the organization’s mandate, regional leaders are now suggesting that the CTO expand its research arm and make data collection and analysis a priority.

Bahamas Minister of Tourism, the Hon. Dionisio D’Aguilar, said Caribbean countries must work together to improve tourism in the region.

“The plan is for the CTO to develop a first in class entity that would generate tourism data to help better inform decisions related to tourism,” said Minister D’Aguilar. “Some countries feel they are working from insufficient data that is not in the best interest of their products.”

Bahamas Tourism Director General, Joy Jibrilu, said The Bahamas is excited by the plan.

“The right research and data provided by the CTO would be extremely valuable to The Bahamas, not only for planning purposes in the Ministry of Tourism, but to the Department of Statistics, the Central Bank of The Bahamas and international agencies.”

Mrs. Jibrilu noted that while the Ministry of Tourism in The Bahamas has a strong statistics collection system, additional data provided by the CTO would help to provide even more useful and in-depth information, such as determining specific visitor spends and how that contributes to the overall economy.

The specially convened meeting of the CTO Council of Tourism ministers and commissioners was held on Wednesday morning on the sidelines of the 40thRegular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community, which officially opened 3 July.

At Wednesday’s meeting, officials were expected to come up with ideas centered on how to move forward with the plan, which would be discussed further when the CTO meets later this year.