As Antigua and Barbuda joins the rest of the world today to observe World Tourism Day, Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez said there should be the coming together of not just stakeholders but all citizens to ensure the survival of the sector.
September 27, 2022, has been designated by the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), as World Tourism Day, under the theme “Rethinking Tourism”.
“For us the key name is sustainability. My aim is if can work together to allow for Antigua not just when we leave for it to be pristine as it is now, but to make it better than we have met it. We need to work together to ensure that generations to come can enjoy an even better Antigua and Barbuda,” he said.
Fernandez said tourism accounts for about 70% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product and most of the employment on the island.
“It can be considered the bread basket of the country. It is important to us. Every aspect of Antigua and Barbuda in some way is touched by the tourism product,” he added.
The Ministry of Tourism has organized several activities to observe World Tourism Day.
The Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) is also reflecting on the significant contribution tourism has made to the socioeconomic development of the Caribbean while focusing on the challenges and opportunities the industry presents for the future.
CHTA President Nicola Madden-Greig said tourism has been the main driver in propelling Caribbean economies, creating new entrepreneurial opportunities; building upward mobility; broadening the skills and ingenuity of our peoples; celebrating and showcasing Caribbean culture, cuisine, nature, and entertainment; and improving our capacity to rebound from crises and challenging situations.
She said that coming out of the pandemic, tourism stakeholders must utilize the lessons learned to re-imagine the current approach to Caribbean tourism.
Looking ahead, Madden-Greig endorsed remarks from United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on the eve of World Tourism Day who said that Tourism is a powerful driver for sustainable development.
“We must invest in clean and sustainable tourism, lowering the sector’s energy consumption, adopting zero-emission pathways, and protecting biodiversity. We must create decent jobs and ensure profits benefit the host country and local communities. There is no time to waste. Let us rethink and reinvent tourism and together, deliver a more sustainable, prosperous, and resilient future for all,” she said.
Meanwhile, as CHTA celebrates its 60th anniversary, Madden-Greig pointed to the correlation between the organization’s broad program of work and successes and the contributions tourism has made to the growth and development of local economies and the Caribbean public.
“Our work in the past has laid a foundation and paved a path to the future. Our challenge today is to build an industry that can adapt to and meet the ongoing and new challenges we face,” she stated.
“This includes meeting the challenges of climate change, creating a more inclusive industry, propelling upward mobility through tourism, retaining more of the tourism dollar, using technology to create new opportunities and address rising costs, reinforcing linkages and new entrepreneurial opportunities, addressing our inter-connectivity challenges, and adapting to the changing interests and demands in the marketplace,” Madden-Greig continued.
“Tourism contributes more than 40 percent of GDP to most Caribbean economies, with several destinations exceeding 60 percent. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Caribbean Economic Impact Report issued last June, the Caribbean can expand tourism’s contribution to GDP, employment and revenue retention and expansion by working together to address the myriad aforementioned challenges,” she observed.