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Regional tourism bodies call on sector to advance hurricane preparations

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) have urged the tourism sector to step up preparations for this year’s Atlantic hurricane season which began June 1.

The United States-based National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting activity will be “above average” during the June 1 to November 30 season this year. Between 14 to 21 named storms have been forecast, with six to ten having the likelihood to become hurricanes, and three to six forecasts to be major hurricanes – Category 3 or above.

Underscoring the importance of tourism to the socio-economic development of the region, CTO and CHTA said they will be undertaking separate as well as joint initiatives to increase awareness across the sector in the coming weeks to reinforce preparations.

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Acting CTO Secretary-General Neil Walters asserted that exhaustive planning and information gathering by all stakeholders is critical, pointing out this is key to the continued resilience of the sector, especially during the upcoming season.

“CTO has always provided critical tools aimed at mitigating disasters, such as the Multi-Hazard Risk Management Guide which is available to planners through the online tourism training center, the Caribbean Tourism Institute,” Walters said.

“The importance of preparedness cannot be reiterated enough. It has proven to be one of the key factors enabling the sector to make swift and solid recoveries following setbacks.”

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The guide addresses all phases of the disaster management cycle through the dissemination of crisis communication and social media best practices, and both tourism bodies will continue such awareness initiatives in the weeks ahead.

Vanessa Ledesma, Acting CEO and Director General of CHTA, which has played a pivotal role in helping regional stakeholders navigate hurricane season through awareness campaigns, reiterated the value of planning and preparedness.

“We will continue to provide extensive education on insurance, best practices for businesses, communication strategies, cancellation practices, and regional response mechanisms to ensure stakeholders can weather any challenges associated with this year’s season,” she said.

Both the CTO and the CHTA believe high levels of preparedness have enabled Caribbean destinations to rebound swiftly from natural disasters in the past.

The organizations stressed that in any given year most of the Caribbean is untouched by a major hurricane, citing the vast geography of the region. Despite the relative safety of the region for summer and fall travel, the region takes planning and readiness seriously. They attribute that readiness to the Caribbean’s ability to bounce back from a crisis situation faster than most areas of the world.

As part of their preparation activities, the two organizations are conducting a two-part readiness training session for public and private sector tourism managers on June 10 and June 30.

CMC/

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