Caribbean tourism officials optimistic after Brussels visit
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Caribbean tourism officials have visited Brussels for talks with the European Union (EU), as the United Kingdom gets ready to announce a date for leaving the 28-member bloc.
A statement by the Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) said that the delegation, headed by its Secretary General, Hugh Riley, met with senior parliamentarians, the European Commission, the Caribbean Forum (CARIFORUM) ambassadors, and other key stakeholders.
The statement noted that the delegation, which also included the president of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Karolin Troubetzkoy, wanted a better understanding of how Britain’s decision to leave the EU would impact the Caribbean tourism industry.
“We recognise that while the Caribbean tourism sector has had its successes – and we are certainly proud to celebrate those successes – we are also aware of the challenges which continue to stymie our growth,” Riley said.
“We are aware that we have friends and willing partners in Europe who share our conviction that the future success of tourism in the Caribbean is key to creating new jobs, growth and prosperity in the region and we look forward to continuing to build on the already strong relationships we have in the UK, France, Spain, the Netherlands and with the EU institutions,” he added.
The CTO said that among the many areas of interest were access to funding for tourism development programmes under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) and future UK-Caribbean bilateral funding programmes.
The mission, which included the Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Tourism, Shamfa Cudjoe and Marie-Line Lesdema, the first Vice-President of the Martinique Tourism Committee, was able to determine that funds for private sector growth programmes in the tourism sector continue to be available, but that there was ever more competition for the funds; the most successful projects would be those which demonstrated their ability to deliver demonstrable development benefits.
The Caribbean team also discussed with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) initiatives to support environmentally sustainable tourism within local communities, along with training and education, including new possible partnerships for tourism training initiatives.
“Collaboratively, the CTO and the CHTA are always looking for avenues to maximize the economic development potential of the tourism industry to reduce the region’s unemployment, enhance our competitive position and bolster the Caribbean’s financial security.
Our meetings in Brussels were an important step toward ensuring the prosperity of the region and continuity of private and public sector partnerships within the UK and EU,” Troubetzkoy said.