World Tourism Day Message from Vanessa Ledesma, Acting CEO and Director General, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) wrote:
We at the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) are pleased to join the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) in marking World Tourism Day 2021 (September 27) under the theme of “Tourism for Inclusive Growth”.
The theme is particularly relevant this year because all areas of our destinations across the Caribbean have been ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate-related disasters. Our sector, which attracts precious foreign exchange revenues, has suffered grievously, and as a result, the economies and the people of our region have been enormously impacted.
This is why we welcome this year’s theme. Tourism is the major breadwinner for the Caribbean, and whatever affects tourism affects the region as a whole. So as an association of private sector tourism and business stakeholders we are pleased to support and participate actively in the continued drive to return our sector back to its diverse, dynamic pre-COVID state and jumpstarting its recovery with the particular focus on inclusive growth.
Tourism and hospitality especially have a unique capacity to drive development which is diverse, inclusive and sustainable. No other sector can promote the aspirations of locals for lives of dignity, economic independence, and respect as effectively as tourism. Its links to almost all areas of society make the inclusive development of tourism a major, if not the most important, priority for countries, territories, and regional and international organizations.
A thriving tourism sector feeds and nourishes so many other stakeholders and this is especially so in the Caribbean, the world’s most tourism-dependent region. We see this in abundance throughout the region as a growing number of Caribbean nationals have aspired to positions of top management and ownership in tourism-related businesses and the many other enterprises in their communities which are made possible due to the cascading impact of visitor spending.
CHTA members and associates are well rooted in their respective locales and are able to quickly ascertain the needs of their surrounding communities. Indeed, tourism contributes to all the Sustainable Development Goals identified by United Nations member countries, spanning economic growth, food security, consumption and production as well as the responsible use of oceans and marine resources.
The COVID-19 pandemic and natural disasters have ruptured social and economic activities with marginalized groups, with the most vulnerable being hit hardest of all.
As we saw in New York after the terrible attacks of September 11, 2001, and we have witnessed repeatedly following hurricanes and other crises in our region over the past 50 years, tourism is the sector which bounces back the quickest from adversity, so the focus on returning travel and tourism to its dynamism will help all other parts of the economy and society as a whole.
The full restart of tourism will be the speediest and most productive way to recovery and growth. It is essential that the benefits this will bring are enjoyed widely and fairly, and no one is left behind.
On World Tourism Day, CHTA is honored to participate with our public sector partner, the Caribbean Tourism Organization, leaders from government, the private sector and non-governmental, academic, health and media organizations for a day-long virtual conference on the future of Caribbean tourism.
The virtual conference brings together tourism leaders to highlight the challenges, successes and best practices on “The Future of Caribbean Tourism – Redefining the three S’s” – social inclusion, sustainability, and smart destinations and businesses.
This impressive collaboration among the region’s major stakeholders supports our mission to address unique challenges presented by the pandemic and build the capacity of tourism-related businesses, particularly small- and medium-sized businesses and budding entrepreneurs, to survive and thrive into the future.
We anticipate recovering and rebounding better and stronger as we move forward together.