World Tourism Day has been celebrated on Sept. 27 every year since 1980, when the statutes of the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) were adopted.
Celebrations and observances mark the day in countries and regions around the globe.
The Caribbean is no exception. A daylong virtual conference featured a roster of speakers and panelists from the public and private sectors, including Bruce Poon Tip, founder of G Aventures and its nonprofit partner, Planeterra, which supports communities around the world; Lisa Cummins, Barbados minister of tourism; Sherma Roberts, coordinator of tourism programs at the University of the West Indies; Carey Turnquest, Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) Young Leader and director of food and beverage at the Cove Atlantis and the Reef Atlantis; and Zurab Pololikashvili, UNWTO secretary general, among others.
Related: The latest Caribbean travel restrictions and islands open to U.S. travelers
Discussions centered on this year’s theme of “Tourism for Inclusive Growth.”
“Let us keep on giving our visitors a good experience with our people. We must all talk, touch, listen and deliver a good experience because this is what visitors will carry home with them and bring them back to us,” said Alvaro Carrillo, general director, Institute of Hotel Technology in Spain.
Frank Comito, former CEO/director general of CHTA, agreed with Carrillo, saying, “We cannot and will not lose the personal touch that the Caribbean is known for.”
Several of the Caribbean countries sent out their own messages, and all echoed the importance of tourism inclusivity. Joseph Boschulte, USVI commissioner of tourism, said the inclusion of tourism development “is embedded in all that we do because it is the greatest job creator in our islands.”
Regarding the pandemic, he thanked the many people and organizations that have contributed to the success of the restart and resurgence of “our bread-and-butter tourism as we continue to balance the importance of protecting lives and livelihoods of Virgin Islanders.”
Newly appointed Bahamas’ minister of tourism Chester Cooper remarked that “this World Tourism Day has been designated as a day to focus on inclusive growth through tourism, which is quite poignant. Tourism is the heartbeat of the Bahamas and it is everyone’s business. Every individual who shapes the Bahamas experience stands to benefit from tourism’s success.
“I join with leaders throughout the Caribbean to elevate the importance of social inclusion, sustainability and smart destinations and businesses. Our country and our beloved Caribbean region will prosper again and continue to progress, as in the words of the motto of the Bahamas: Forward, Upward, Onward, Together,” Cooper said.
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