By F. Martin
TTC Service.- The Barbados-based Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has called for a formal strategic partnership between the region’s tourism sector and United States.
The new alliance will be based on the implementing of the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act, known as H.R. 2939.
The 2016 legislation is aimed to increase engagement with the governments of the Caribbean region, the Caribbean diaspora community in the United States, and the private sector and civil society in both the United States and the Caribbean, and for other purposes.
In an official statement this week The CTO said that the Act, which was passed in the United States Congress in December last year and signed into law by then US President Barack Obama, mandates a new long-term strategy to strengthen ties between the US and the Caribbean region.
It said it is designed to increase the security, prosperity and well-being of the people of the United States and the Caribbean.
CTO Secretary General Hugh Riley, said that the Act appears to align with the US government’s strategy for the Caribbean on many areas related to sustainable development and a mechanism that incorporates the Caribbean’s tourism working group with the entities tasked with implementing H.R.4939. He said it would be a “winning formula” for both the US and the Caribbean, according to the London paper The Guardian.
Riley said to a panel focused on “Building Sustainable Economies” that his recommendation is that, “together, we waste no time in making that partnership a reality. Without doubt, shoring up the Caribbean’s main economic driver is the surest way to protect the third border of the United States,” he added.
The CTO also stated that the Caribbean region is considered the United States’ “third border,” characterized by “common interests and societal ties that yield daily, tangible benefits for US citizens. The U.S. is the Caribbean’s primary trading partner.
Tourism is one of the Caribbean’s major economic sectors, with 25 million visitors contributing $49 billion towards the area’s gross domestic product in 2013, which represented 14% of its total GDP.[
By 1900, steamships had regular routes to Barbados. In the 19th century, wealthy European tourists traveled across the Atlantic during the winter months for weeks or months at a time.
In 1959, 1.3 million people vacationed in the Caribbean, and by 1965 the number of visitors had risen to nearly 4 million per year. Tourism became a significant industry by 1985 when 10 million people vacationed on the islands.
Last year saw an increase of more than 8 percent in the number of American citizens jetting off to international destinations. In 2016, a total of 66,960,943 U.S. citizens traveled outside the country, compared to the 61,783,913 who did the previous year according to recent stats from the National Travel and Tourism Office.
In 2016 37,403,398 Americans stayed within the confines of North America, with Mexico proving to be the year’s most popular destination 25,181,630 trips in total, followed by Canada 12,221,768 visits), Europe in the third most popular destination, with 11,831,870 Americans headed to the region, followed by the Caribbean (6,579,691), and Asia (4,388,391).