By F. Martin
TTC Service.- Tourism in the Caribbean has had a good start in 2018. But this does not mean that the challenges have disappeared.
The CTO has declared 2018 as the Year of Rejuvenation in the Caribbean, with well-being and rejuvenation as important aspects of the Caribbean tourism product. In order to make this process successful, regional common problems must be included to face them with new and effective policies.
“Intracaribbean tourism, which has also been increasing, would need continuous attention, especially in the current circumstances where the task of educating the traveling public and removing barriers to travel within the Caribbean will continue to be a challenge,” Hugh Riley, General Secretary and Executive Director of the Caribbean Tourism Organization said in a New Year message.
Intraregional travel in the Caribbean broke another record in 2016, as arrivals increased by 3.6% to register more than 1.7 million trips, in a second consecutive year of growth. Despite the success, Riley said in early 2017 that the intraregional trip is still costly and fragmented.
He stressed, however, that this was “a clear signal of the Caribbean’s interest in taking vacations in their neighboring countries. This impulse came with the desire of the Caribbean people to attend festivals and celebrations, especially during Easter and the summer seasons,” he said.
A Last November meeting of the Civil Aviation Association (CAA) in the Bahamas dealt with the establishment of a Caribbean regional airline or air transport network, which is expected to, if carried out, ultimately help to further leverage the benefits of intra-Caribbean tourism.
According to the Guardian of Nassau, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Tourism, Charles Albury, said on that occasion that travels within the Caribbean is a project on which the Caribbean Tourism Organization is working.
Many Caribbean experts think that a good policy of “open skies” should include the development of regional airlines, although without damaging the interests of foreign lines that come from everywhere, especially from Europe and the United States.
In his New Year Message, Riley said the CTO will continue to focus on its main tourism markets, the United States and Europe, and also hopes to increase the number of Canadian visitors to the region.
He added that the organization hopes to facilitate travel within the Caribbean not only for nationals but for visitors.
Tourism is the largest industry in 16 of the 28 Caribbean countries. Due to this crucial coincidence of interests, these nations are almost obliged to design an intra-Caribbean policy not only in air travel but in many other common problems.
Issues such as the fight against Zika and other diseases, the consequences of climate change and financial problems, poverty and the fight against crime are issues that also require regional collective responses.