Black Immigrant Daily News
Former Prime Minister and Statesman-in-Residence at the PJ Patterson Institute for Africa-Caribbean Advocacy, University of the West Indies (UWI), PJ Patterson, has highlighted the need to ensure the resilience of tourism, given its importance as a key driver of economic growth.
The former prime minister, who among other portfolio responsibilities, also served as Minister of Tourism, was the keynote speaker at the opening session of the recent African Caribbean Tourism Summit at the inaugural Global Tourism Resilience Conference at the UWI Regional Headquarters, Mona, St Andrew.
Patterson highlighted opportunities arising from the industry and the importance of building on the historical link between the Caribbean and the African diaspora. Mindful of the era pre and post the COVID-19 pandemic, he said there was absolutely no doubt about the urgency of pushing forward with mobilising the African and Caribbean diaspora in the fields of trade, investment, science, sport, culture and entertainment.
But he said “To find lasting economic solutions we must look to one of the key drivers of growth, tourism, and we must do so across Africa, the entire continent, and in the Caribbean,” Patterson remarked.
He argued that with the decline of most traditional crops in Africa and the Caribbean, tourism has become a key economic driver.
“Tourism has become, for most of us, the cornerstone on which we are endeavouring to build sound economies, (and) given its magnetic link to agriculture, to manufacturing and the inseparable connections with the creative industries, entertainment and services, tourism has become the pillar on which sustainable growth and accelerated development must now depend,” Patterson said.
He also noted that African countries possess varied appeals, adding that with proper planning and effective marketing, there would be a growing demand to visit African destinations which could benefit the Caribbean through shared vacations, and with the creation of a fertile ground for people-to-people contact and increasing airlift and charter flights between both regions.
Minister of Tourism, Edmund Bartlett, noted the serious damage that was inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic on Africa, adding that with the continent looking to tourism to drive recovery, the Caribbean is in a position to help.
“They are the new frontier for they are learning the art of entertainment and utilising the culture to add value to their economic well-being, and the Caribbean can help,” stated Bartlett.
“We can also be the bridge head to the richest and most lucrative market for tourism in the world, North America.”
The historic Global Tourism Resilience Conference was attended by several tourism ministers from African and Caribbean countries, and Bartlett, who co-chairs the Global Tourism Resilience and Crisis Management Centre, said the Caribbean partners should use the conference “as a platform for the beginning of that convergence that will bring Africa and the Caribbean together to move into the market that they want.”
He noted, however, that while Africa is open to receiving more, the Caribbean also has the capacity to receive even more from Africa, and the conference will explore how there could be a full interchange, and create areas of convergence in various aspects of tourism activities.