Dominican Republic President, His Excellency Danilo Medina Sánchez, says the Caribbean stands to benefit greatly from the positioning of the region as a unified destination in the global tourism market.
President Medina, who was addressing the United Nations Gala Dinner and Tourism Icon Awards at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, Rose Hall, St. James, on November 28, said that while countries will continue to promote their individual destinations, “it is recognisng that there is a larger market beyond”.
“There is a visitor who wants to accumulate more than one experience in his trip, know the richness and diversity of our cultures and take advantage of his visit to this side of the world to travel to different places,” he pointed out.
“Dominican Republic, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Cuba, Puerto Rico and all the islands that make up this beautiful region have enormous potential if we are able to weave a network of offers that allows customers to explore all the attractions that it adds up to – the climate, culture and experience offered by the Caribbean,” he said further.
President Medina said it was within this context that the Dominican Republic and Jamaica had signed a multi-destination agreement, which will provide both countries access to a combined larger market.
The agreement focuses on joint marketing and airlift arrangements and is similar to the agreement signed between Cuba and Jamaica in January.
Tourism Minister, Hon. Edmund Bartlett, in his remarks at the signing informed that Jamaica and Mexico will also sign a memorandum of understanding in January 2018 that will “bring together the four major markets in the Caribbean into a symbiotic arrangement that will allow us to provide a market for close to 33 million people”.
President Medina, in his address at the gala dinner and awards, said the goal “is for this to be followed by many other agreements among the nations of the Caribbean, which allow us to develop our full potential”.
Pointing to the robust growth in tourism in the Caribbean in the past year, he noted that the region grew faster than the world average, exceeding 25 million visitors for the first time.
He said all indications are that 2017 will be the eighth consecutive year of continuous growth for tourism in the region.
“This is crucial because we are currently the region that depends the most on tourism income in our economies. To give you an example, for the Dominican Republic, tourism is producing more than 25 per cent of the currencies generated by our economy,” he noted.
President Medina said that as Governments there is much the Caribbean can do to promote tourism in the region, citing, for example, open skies and migration facilitation, better and more efficient airports, tax incentives and, of course, joint promotion.
“Equally, there is much that the private sector can begin to do. Tour operators, travel agencies, airlines, shipping companies and other actors should see the great benefits they can obtain if they start to design attractive multi-destination products,” he said.
“Our country… wants to work with all of you to transform the tourism sector not only into a growth engine but into a motor for sustainable growth,” he noted further.