Published: Monday | October 4, 2010
John Lynch (centre), chairman of Jamaica Tourist Board, looking at a book presented to him from Rum Pundit with, from left: Bevan Springer; Director General, Ministry of Tourism, Carrole Guntley; Lelel LeLaulu, vice-president of Caribbean Media Exchange (CMEx) and David Shields, Jamaica Tourist Board, deputy director of marketing, at the opening session of the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston last Friday. – Rudolph Brown/Photographer
Philip Hamilton, Gleaner Writer
The Caribbean is expected to reap US$11.7 billion in tourism revenues in 2010 despite the effects of the global economic crisis on the tourism and travel industry.
According to Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) chairman John Lynch, statistics from the World Tourism Organisation (WTO) revealed that international tourist arrivals grew by seven percent during the first half of this year.
Lynch, who was speaking last week at the 19th Caribbean Media Exchange for sustainable tourism, staged in Kingston, said the data, which showed positive growth in all regions, had Asia as the leading continent with North, Central and South America showing steady growth.
However, Lynch noted that growth had been much slower in the Caribbean despite an improvement over 2008 and 2009.
He said while the industry continued to grapple with the economic realities, there was a need to identify diverse opportunities for change, which ensured the survival of the respective territories, as well as the region.
“These include new trends in travel, an understanding of its importance to our livelihood, plus a renewed commitment by all stakeholders, ” said Lynch.
Responding to questions regarding the future of Caribbean tourism in relation to individual messages from each tourism authority, Lynch acknowledged that much more could be done with regards to the region promoting together.
He said while this stemmed largely from inadequate funds, it was time for Caricom leaders to deal with the question of tourism if the region was to move forward.
Lynch also called for Caribbean nationals to travel freely in the region without the need for visas and passports.
“Tourism should not be a sidebar when the Caricom heads meet. It should be top in mind. The only way I see us getting around that is to provide solid statistics about our industry to our policymakers.”
At present, Caricom nationals have to present passports to enter territory of other member states.