Conference attendance indicates regional recovery

Organisers of the Caribbean Marketplace tourism industry conference have said that the large attendance indicates a Caribbean recovery.

President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, Josef Forstmayr, told delegates that 2011 bodes well for the industry.

“All of us have felt the impact of the economic crisis over the past two years, but we have much reason to be optimistic. Right now at Marketplace 2011, we have more buyers that have come to meet with hotels and tourist offices than last year, an indication that business is coming back.”

Mr. Forstmayr said that tourism is the key to economic development and has an ability to compete globally.

“[Tourism] has in all but a few Caribbean nations become the essential provider of employment and national income; and by extension a principal provider of taxes that pay for voters’ expectations of everything from education to health care to roads,” he said.

The association president said that his organisation has launched a campaign called Tourism is Key, which underlines the importance of the sector, and urges Caribbean citizens and heads of state alike to recognise that every tourist dollar brings economic and social benefits to all levels of society.

There are four main goals of the organisation’s lobbying efforts, he said.

“One, strong advocacy of the tourism industry with government and the general public; two, faster regional integration and the removal of barriers such as visas, excessive entry formalities and bureaucracy. This will also enable Caribbean nationals to fuel the tourism growth in neighbouring destinations.

“Three, better and more affordable airline access with less regulation throughout the region.

We know that this is something you all want because it would make your jobs easier to package, promote and sell our island destinations, and four, the creation and launch of a sustainable marketing and promotion fund for the Caribbean.

This is more than a decade overdue and we cannot wait any longer,” he concluded. Representatives of Cayman’s business and public sector were in attendance at the conference, which was held at Montego Bay in January.

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