Port of Spain, Trinidad – Over the years, the Caribbean’s tourism industry has shown an ability to bounce back, leading to a confidence that the sector will overcome recent financial shocks.
And though individual islands are small economies, together the region is a large player, said Winston Dookeran, acting Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago.
He noted that there was likely to be a change in the economic map of the world and that tourism could take the opportunity to reinvent itself in difficult times.
He said that the CARICOM region required a redesign of its architecture to broaden its scope and widen the physical space in which it operated. At the moment, CARICOM is comprised of 15 full members, five associate members – including the Cayman Islands – and eight observers.
Mr. Dookeran identified two key issues. First, he said, logistics, connectivity and transportation must be tackled. He revealed that there would be a meeting of executives taking place during May which would involve airline representatives. This would constitute a step toward trying to resolve the perennial difficulties with intra-Caribbean travel.
Second, he spoke of the need to bring development and finance institutions together such as the Inter-American Development Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank and Latin American investment banks. Finance models, he said, were in need of a new paradigm and this must also be looked at.
The minister also criticised the United Kingdom’s much-derided air passenger duty as an unfair and counterproductive barrier to travel and noted that on a more regional level the multilateral air service agreement and “open skies” policy of CARICOM needed to be implemented properly by member countries.
He acknowledged finally that the challenge was now to convert rhetoric into real, bankable plans with accompanying finance. Practical vehicles that could deliver the goods for generations to come, he concluded, were what really did constitute sustainability.