By F Martin
TTC Service.- CARICOM member countries and Cuba will increase the exchange in multi-destination tourism in order to favor regional economic growth.
According to the announced made during the VI CARICOM Cuba Summit which took place on December 8, 2017 in Antigua and Barbuda a memorandum was signed about multi-destination tourism and for emergency management and disaster risk reduction between the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the Civil Defense of Cuba.
CARICOM and Cuba discussed cooperation in the areas of research and development, food security, the possibility of joint actions to strengthen national security, and the promotion of trade based on the agreement signed between CARICOM and Cuba in November 2017.
“Cuba considers a duty to continue sharing its modest achievements with the Caribbean. 5,432 Caribbean students have graduated in Cuba and 723 are studying at this time. 1,762 Cubans now work in the Caribbean as part of international cooperation programs, most of them in the health sector a press release said.
“Stronger co-operation in disaster risk management is among the major decisions of the Sixth CARICOM-Cuba Summit, a release from the CARICOM Secretariat said at the end of the conference.
“The severe opportunity costs of natural disasters for the economies of both sides was also discussed. It was however pointed out that the resulting challenges spurred both sides to upgrade their disaster preparedness and risk protection policies and measures. It was felt that Science, Technology and innovation were important contributing factors in this area”. Cuba’s President Raul Castro participated in the meeting.
In the area of trade and economic relations, the release said that it was recognized by both sides that there is great potential to be exploited.
The Summit agreed to signal to the World Trade Organization (WTO), whose trade ministers meet in Argentina in the coming days, the need for WTO flexibility for small states during the phase of reconstruction after the devastation of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. It was agreed that WTO rules should not be obstacles to the reconstruction of small states and small vulnerable economies.
During the conference Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that the absence of sea and air links between Cuba and CARICOM states had been a “limiting factor” in the movement of people and goods across the region. “One of the proposals made during the summit, was the possible acquisition of a shipping line to operate between islands to move goods in either direction across the Caribbean archipelago.
Browne said that strengthening transportation was discussed, and a commitment was made to name a committee tasked with “advising us on how soon we can enhance our sea and air links.”
The summit was co-chaired by Grenadian Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell. In his closing statements he revealed that the leaders want to implement “multi-destination tourism” at the regional level. This move, in his opinion, will not negatively impact each state’s individual product once marketing is maintained.
He said that when the relationship with Cuba and North America started improving, a “fear that a lot of tourists would now move towards Cuba and not the Caribbean region,” was misplaced. “We did not see a drop in tourism activity and we don’t expect that that will happen. So signing an agreement and working closer in transport through sea and air can have a significant impact on the regional economies,” he said.