CTO Calls for U.S. and Caribbean Alliance

Aerial view of the Bahamas
Overlooking the Bahamas. (Photo by shalamov/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images)

The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has called for a formal partnership between the region's tourism sector and those responsible for implementing the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act, also known as H.R. 2939.

The Act, which was passed in the United States Congress last December and signed into law by then President Barack Obama, mandates a new long-term strategy to reinforce ties between Washington, D.C. and the Caribbean. It is designed to increase the security, prosperity, and well-being of the people of the United States and the Caribbean.

At a recent meeting, CTO Secretary General Hugh Riley discussed a tourism working group established by Caribbean Community (CARICOM) at a meeting in Guyana in February.

Members of Congress addressed the audience comprised of people of Caribbean Diaspora, diplomats and public sector policy makers including the co-author of the legislation, Congressman Eliot Engel (D-NY), Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-SC), Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), and Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett (D-VI).

Riley also spoke to a panel focusing on "building sustainable economies" as part of an event staged by the Caribbean-Central American Action (CCAA) titled: "Caribbean 2020 Implementing H.R. 4939 from Vision to Engagement."

During his presentation, Riley called for a balanced approach to the development of strategies and policies that are designed to encourage tourism growth while protecting the resource base on which tourism depends. 

In addition, he backed a sector-specific tourism tactic that he said he believed would provide the greatest effectiveness and long-term sustainability. This would be implemented via a partnership between the CTO and the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA).  

CCAA organized the event in order to facility discussions between the U.S. and shareholders involved with the Caribbean region. While the first panel discussed H.R. 2939 and the need for regional cooperation and public-private partnerships, the second moved on to regional investment, building sustainable economies, and finance and trade options. The final panel "The Well-Being Agenda," dedicated its discussions to the health, education and future of the Caribbean.

The Caribbean region is considered by many policymakers the United States’ third border because of its shared interests and societal ties. In addition, the Caribbean’s primary trading partner is the US and the two have a healthy economic partnership. In 2016, there was a $4.6 billion trade surplus for the United States, 14 million U.S. tourist visits, and 11,042 Caribbean students studying in the U.S.

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