The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has called for a formal partnership between the region’s tourism sector and those responsible for implementing the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act, known as H.R. 2939.
The Act, which was passed in the United States Congress on Dec. 13, 2016 and signed into law by then U.S. President Barack Obama three days later, mandates a new long-term strategy to strengthen ties between Washington, D.C. and the Caribbean region. It is designed to increase the security, prosperity and well-being of the people of the United States and the Caribbean.
Addressing the importance of the Act to Caribbean tourism at a recent meeting in Washington, D.C., CTO Secretary General Hugh Riley referenced a tourism working group established by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) heads of government at their meeting in Guyana in February, to guide the development and marketing of Caribbean tourism.
This, Riley said, appears to align with the U.S. government’s strategy for the Caribbean on many areas related to sustainable development, and a mechanism that incorporates the Caribbean’s tourism working group with the entities tasked with implementing H.R.4939 would be a winning formula for both the U.S. and the Caribbean.
“What an accomplishment it would be for all of us and for the architects of H.R. 4939 if we could report back to our region’s prime ministers and presidents when we meet with them in February, that there is now a working partnership between the region’s tourism working group and the U.S. Caribbean Strategic Alliance. Our recommendation is that together, we waste no time in making that partnership a reality. Without doubt, shoring up the Caribbean’s main economic driver is the surest way to protect the third border of the United States,” Riley said.
His remarks were delivered during a panel focused on “building sustainable economies” as part of an event staged by the Caribbean-Central American Action (CCAA) titled: “Caribbean 2020 Implementing H.R. 4939 from Vision to Engagement.”
Select members of the U.S. Congress addressed the audience of Caribbean Diaspora, diplomats and public sector policy makers including the co-author of the legislation, Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member, The House Foreign Affairs Committee; Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Chairman, The Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere; Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), Ranking Member, The Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations; and Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-VI), Ranking Member, The Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy, and Environment.
The Caribbean region is considered the United States’ “third border,” characterized by common interests and societal ties that yield daily, tangible benefits for U.S. citizens. The U.S. is the Caribbean’s primary trading partner, representing a vibrant economic partnership that, in 2016, saw a $4.6 billion trade surplus for the United States, 14 million U.S. tourist visits, and 11,042 Caribbean students studying in the U.S.
CCAA organized the half-day event to move discussions along between the U.S. and key stakeholders involved with the Caribbean region. The meeting began with a discussion of the Act followed by a panel about “The Security Agenda” featuring discussions on the need for stronger regional cooperation and public-private partnerships to advance citizen security. The second panel, “The Prosperity Agenda” focused on the outlook for regional investment, building sustainable economies, and finance and trade options. The final panel “The Well-Being Agenda,” dedicated its discussions to the health, education and future of the Caribbean.”
During his presentation, Riley called for a balanced approach to the development of strategies and policies that are designed to spur tourism growth while protecting the resource base on which tourism depends.
He advocated for a sector-specific tourism approach that would provide the greatest effectiveness and long-term sustainability which would be carried out with partnerships between the CTO and the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA).