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Caribbean Tourism Summit a success

Officials from the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Jamaica Tourist Board held a successful Caribbean Tourism Summit in Jamaica June 15-16, designed to not only identify, but also find solutions to the many aviation and bureaucratic barriers that continue to obstruct the Caribbean’s tourism progress. In his opening remarks, Josepf F. Forstmayr, president, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, thanked everyone who “took out a mortgage to pay for the airfare to be with us here today. It is not just the excessive intra-Caribbean airfares, but also the total lack of a comprehensive, user-friendly transportation network that has stifled visitors from our own region. No wonder our brothers and sisters cannot visit their families in neighbouring islands, or their school sports and academic teams compete across the region, or the church groups and social clubs enjoy their Caribbean neighbours’ hospitality.”He added the lack of an affordable and effective regional transportation network is not only having a significant negative effect on tourism, but also on the West Indian culture and way of life. Intra-Caribbean travel fell by two-thirds between 2006 and 2010 — which means that the region lost more than a million Caribbean visitors. “That loss of visitors equates to losing over one-third of all Canadian tourists or over one-fifth of all European tourists,”said Forstmayr. “Let us wake up and do something about this over the next two days.”He went on to promote the CHTA’s advocacy program – “Tourism Is Key,”which started two years ago and continues to spread across the region educating both the man-in-the-street and elected politicians about the importance of tourism to economies. The four pillars of the campaign are: advocacy with governments and citizens; linkages of tourism into local industry, agriculture and services; regional integration (improved airlift, less bureaucracy for regional travel); and regional marketing. The summit also saw the naming of the CHTA’s new president, Richard Doumeng.

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