On Wednesday, former United States President Bill Clinton urged the Caribbean to continue to expand efforts to rejuvenate the regional tourist industry and guide the countries towards a stronger and more sustainable future.
“I don’t have to tell you the critical role travel and tourism plays in the Caribbean. The sector accounts for more than 15 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the region and in many countries the number is much higher,” Clinton said in an address to delegates attending the 2018 State of the Industry Conference (SOTIC) being held in The Bahamas.
Severe financial loss from 2017 hurricanes
“It is estimated that the 2017 hurricane season resulted in the loss of more than 800,000 visitors to the region which could have generated more than 740 million dollars and supported thousands of jobs,” Clinton said in his address via telecast.
He said the rejuvenation of the industry as well as getting tourists to visit the region were absolutely essential to the ongoing efforts to build back better.
“We have seen already how hotels for example can act as models for businesses and other sectors by emphasizing sustainability, developing the local work force, forming partnerships with local farmers and small business.”
Clinton said that the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), which is organizing the three-day event in collaboration with the Bahamas government, is working with his foundation and other partners to showcase the extraordinary culture biodiversity, arts food and history of the region.
Impressed with the Caribbean resilience
“I want you to continue and expand this crucial work,” Clinton said, noting that watching the recovery efforts over the last few years, he was struck by the resilience and sense of community among people of the Caribbean.
“We have made a lot of progress but there is so much more to be done. And with the apparent hurricane season already underway we know the work is more urgent that ever,” he noted.
Clinton also noted as time goes by “we can’t forget our commitment to revitalizing the tourism industry and in so doing to guide the region towards a stronger safer and more sustainable future. Please use this meeting as an opportunity to continue this very important work.”
Regional tourism ministers are among stakeholders meeting here to chart new directions for the Caribbean tourism sector based on the theme “Rejuvenate, Recreate and Reconnect.