New CARICOM initiatives on tourism and ICT

CARICOM Heads of Government meeting in Georgetown have agreed to give greater priority to tourism, the development of a regional ICT programme, and to addressing the issue of pan-Caribbean crime.

Of all the matters discussed at the inter-sessional summit held on February 16-17 under the Chairmanship of Guyana’s President, David Granger, the issue most likely to have a timely outcome relates to tourism, a sector rarely discussed by Heads of Government, despite its centrality to the regional economy.

At the meeting, CARICOM Heads recognised for the first time ‘that tourism is a vital sector to the economies of Member States’. In doing so they welcomed detailed proposals put forward by the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) to advance a regional tourism agenda, in part through the creation of public/private sector partnerships to address issues from airlift to marketing.

In an important departure, they agreed to the establishment of an Interim Tourism Working Group involving the CARICOM Secretariat, CTO and the CHTA, and stakeholders to prepare a pilot region-wide public relations and marketing initiative. This will be considered when they next meet in July.

The decision was subsequently welcomed by the CTO and CHTA, who said that, at the request of Heads of Government, they will now be developing detailed information on the regional industry’s competitiveness and financing needs to ensure its future sustainability.

The other agreement reached, with potentially significant long-term implications, was a draft roadmap for a single CARICOM ICT space, based on a paper produced by the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU) and officials. The proposal envisages ICT becoming a driving force for the creation of a CARICOM digital economy, and a means of increasing inter-regional social cohesion and awareness.

On crime, especially among young people, ‘grave concern’ was expressed, and it was recognised that there was a need to take action at a regional level to finalise and implement the Regional Crime and Security Agenda and….

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