Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley is calling on Caribbean governments to come together and form partnerships to make the region the strongest tourism attraction in the world.
Equally important, she said, was the need for regional stakeholders to join hands in the fight against climate change while at the same time improving resilience.
Mottley made the suggestions yesterday in Puerto Rico, where she was the special speaker at the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association’s (FCCA) annual conference and trade show.
She again stressed that the Caribbean’s uniqueness continued to make a region which could boast of being a big player in the tourism market.
“The tourism industry has been growing way beyond the pace of growth of exports and merchandise across the world. Cruise is the largest and fastest grower. This region is responsible for over a third and just under a half of the revenue created. It is easy for us to sprint to do well.
“But how do we command that position for the largest growing sector in the largest industry in the global community?” she asked. “You don’t want to lose the race, ever. Staying the course and going the distance means the partnerships we have now have to be strengthened,” the Prime Minister added.
She said that to put things in perspective, the people of The Bahamas understood now that Carnival Cruise Lines and others were not fair weather friends, based on their quick humanitarian response to the island chain’s devastation by Hurricane Dorian last month.
“We thank you for your quick and appropriate support. There are few other entities in the world that can deliver 20 000 meals in a day to the people of The Bahamas, in the way in which you have,” she said, with FCCA chairman, billionaire cruise line owner Mickey Arison, in attendance.
“That’s why we appreciate not just the partnership with cruise but the appreciation that tourism, more than any other sector, can grow back the quickest because it depends on how we host and what experience we create.”
Mottley added that the Caribbean created that experience that could give people, in one short period, a microcosm of every part of the world, and it had a particular message which could be sent to the rest of the world.
“There are for us moments in history we would rather not remember, but we are conscious those moments, so blended and conspired, bring together the best of every race and religion that exists in the world. That’s part of the allure.
“It’s not just the physical environment; it’s who we are and how we express ourselves. We have to recognise the global community needs the story and expression of that uniqueness of the Caribbean civilisation.”
Adding that the world had found itself in a state of turbulence in areas such as Asia and the Middle East, Mottley said it was necessary for the Caribbean “to work together in partnership and be strategic to create that oasis in happiness that all human beings long for and want.
“But we can’t do it by serendipity. There are a number of things that we must now confront in order to be able to stay the course and go the distance.”
She said the first was the climate.
“We are on the frontline of all of the damage that is coming as a result of the climate crisis. But we were not on the front of those who caused it in the first place. It means we have to spend money to do things we otherwise would not have had to spend money to do. There’s still a limited pool from which to draw. That is the most significant development for this industry.
“The cruise industry, in recognising their investment, needs to go beyond the destination, but also to actual port development,” she suggested. (BA)