Ladies and Gentlemen, dear friends!
It is my pleasure to welcome you to Caribbean Marketplace 2011. This is the most important tourism marketing event of the calendar year for us.
Caribbean Marketplace 2011 has been organized and is hosted by:
The Government of Jamaica
Jamaica Tourist Board
Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association
and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association
And tonight we are very excited to be the first guests at the brand new Montego Bay Convention Centre here in Jamaica.
All of us have felt the impact of the economic crisis over the past two years, but we have much reason to be optimistic.
Right now at Marketplace 2011, we have more buyers that have come to meet with hotels and tourist offices than last year, an indication that business is coming back.
We all recognize that tourism is the key to economic development in the Caribbean.
According to the World Tourism Organization the Caribbean is more dependent on travel and tourism than almost any other region. Of the 10 countries in the world most dependent on tourism, 7 are in the Caribbean.
Tourism and its ability to compete globally has in all but a few Caribbean nations become the essential provider of employment and national income; and by extension a principal provider of taxes that pay for voter