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Tourism stakeholders want travel restrictions eased

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  • Bruce Potter at IRF
    from Caribbean 360 Tourism stakeholders want travel restrictions eased Font size: Travel and tourism directly and indirectly employs more than 1.9 million
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 5, 2011
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      from Caribbean 360



      Tourism stakeholders want travel restrictions eased

      Font size:
      Travel and tourism directly and indirectly employs more than 1.9
      million people in the Caribbean, which translates into one in every
      nine jobs.
      BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, Monday July 4, 2011 � President of the
      Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Josef Forstmayr has
      pleaded with CARICOM heads to fix the regional aviation crisis and
      facilitate ease of intra-regional travel, even as he expressed
      disappointment that tourism was not on the agenda of regional leaders
      who met over the weekend.

      The number of intra-Caribbean visitors declined to 566,000 last year,
      according to statistics from the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism
      Organization (CTO), and Forstmayr said the powers that be need take
      action now.

      �We have heard that several heads of government at this meeting had
      called for reduction in travel restrictions. This is crucial if we are
      to return to the 1.5 million intra-Caribbean visitors that helped fill
      vacant rooms at our Caribbean hotels just a few years ago�An efficient
      and dynamic aviation policy is fundamental to the economic development
      of the region and this includes the tourism industry,� he said.

      "During these challenging times for our international tourism markets
      there is the very real opportunity for us to develop a strong and
      robust intra-Caribbean market which we had in previous years and would
      help to make a positive contribution to national economies.�

      The CHTA added that it was �ludicrous� that visa regimes existed
      between CARICOM countries, stressing that nationals should be able to
      travel freely between Caribbean islands.

      �We tend to speak of integration but at the same time we stand by and
      let our governments erect more barriers. Do not underestimate the
      potential for regional travel,� the association said.

      Forstmayr pointed out that although regional heads had three years ago
      committed to making tourism a regular topic of discussion at all their
      meetings, tourism had been left off the agenda for the just ended 32nd
      Regular Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM in
      St. Kitts.

      The CHTA suggested that the sector has not received as much attention
      as it deserves.

      As a case in point, it noted that in October 2007, Caribbean ministers
      signed off on the San Juan Accord which identified the action steps
      needed to be urgently undertaken in order to provide the Caribbean
      with an efficient and productive aviation policy. A deadline of
      September 30, 2008 was given to get all policies in place.

      However, the CHTA said, �these agreed action steps have not come about
      and the aviation situation both into and within the Caribbean has gone
      from bad to worse�, and the lack of an efficient and affordable intra-
      regional air service has hurt national economies and small hotels.

      Forstmayr said there is still insufficient awareness and understanding
      of the industry's economic contribution and how it permeates the depth
      and breadth of the general economy and overall fabric of Caribbean
      society.

      Travel and tourism directly and indirectly employs more than 1.9
      million people in the Caribbean, which translates into one in every
      nine jobs. It accounts for 12.8 percent of the Caribbean's economic
      activity - more than in any other region in the world.

      "This benefit of tourist spending impacting into the wider economy is
      the relevance that needs to be conveyed to our own people in the
      islands so that everyone understands the importance of these tourists
      and the dollars they bring to the economy,� the CHTA boss said.

      �We need to continue to remind our own people that 'tourism business
      means jobs' not only in the hotels, but for the taxis, the restaurants
      and the farmers and fishermen that fill the restaurants with food. It
      also means work for the seamstress, crafts people, shopkeepers and
      manufacturers, including all their workers plus the deliverymen as
      well as the trash collectors.�

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      Read more: http://www.caribbean360.com/index.php/travel/475147.html?print#ixzz1RHXuy7l5

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