Photo Credit: Grenada Tourism Authority
World Tourism Day 2017 is a day of reflection for the Caribbean.
At this very moment, some of our islands have been severely affected by adverse weather conditions that have caused unimaginable devastation to lives, property and the tourism product of parts of our region. Nonetheless, the spirit of our people remains unwavering as we look determinedly towards recovery. Now more than ever, the Caribbean is rallying together as it begins the process of rebuilding hurricane-affected destinations, by leveraging our creativity and tapping into the resiliency of our people.
Make no mistake, the Caribbean is still open for business. Our tourism industry remains intact in islands that have not been affected. Host communities and businesses are ready to receive visitors and deliver the welcoming smiles, kind hospitality and tropical warmth for which the region has gained renown.
This is a defining moment for our region; it presents an opportunity to reconstruct and build towards a stronger, better and more sustainable path to prosperity. Aptly, the tourism industry has a critical role to play in helping to recover what the region has lost, and this year’s theme – Sustainable Tourism – A Tool for Development – is a deafening call to action.
In the wake of these adverse weather challenges, the CTO has activated the CTO Relief Fund to provide assistance to our member countries affected by hurricanes and other natural disasters. It is through this fund that the CTO channels monetary assistance to our impacted member states to support their efforts to rebuild and recover. To all Caribbean nationals at home and abroad, and friends of the Caribbean, please lend your support by donating via: https://www.gofundme.com/hurricane-relief-fund-cto.
It now behooves us to pursue the agreed sustainable development goals, with tourism as our flagship industry, leading by example. Of fundamental importance is that tourism, once developed in a responsible manner, will improve the humanity of all whom it touches. For visitors, Caribbean tourism awakens a consciousness of the beauty and respect for Mother Earth, whilst for locals the industry offers a chance at social and economic development and a global perspective through exposure to world cultures.
It is, therefore, the CTO’s continued mandate to ensure that sustainable tourism development permanently occupies the minds of Caribbean decision-makers, and that a symbiotic relationship is entrenched between the pillars of people, profit, and planet. We accept that the road ahead of us will be difficult, but we recognize that the weight of our region’s tourism development rests with us and our members.
Caribbean tourism is here to stay. So whether our economies face setbacks from climate change or grapple with disaster recovery, sustainable tourism remains a critical tool in our development arsenal.
Happy World Tourism Day!