BARBADOS (September 27, 2023) – “We believe the Caribbean should lead, and not follow, on investing in a healthy, sustainable, and productive future for the prosperity of our people and our planet,” declared Dona Regis-Prosper, the newly appointed Secretary-General and CEO of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), as she delivered the feature address at a virtual Caribbean forum celebrating World Tourism Day 2023 on Wednesday.
Echoing the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s message this year, Regis-Prosper elaborated on the holistic strategy that focuses on more and better-targeted investments “for people, for planet and for prosperity.” This strategy captures community empowerment, environmentally responsible growth, and equitable wealth creation underpinned by resilience.
Highlighting the urgency of the call to action, the regional tourism chief posed three pivotal questions:
• “How is the Caribbean, the world’s most tourism-dependent region, going to respond to this international call?”
• “How will we contribute our unique experience and expertise to the global discussion on matters such as renewable energy, climate change and carbon neutrality, inclusivity, and the need for economies of scale to increase local linkages and reduce leakages?”
• “How will our leaders in the public, private and nonprofit sectors translate theories into policies and practical applications that allow our communities and our industry to develop more sustainably and more equitably?”
The tourism leader delved into the three foundational pillars underpinning this year’s World Tourism Day theme:
People: Regis-Prosper stressed the need for a focus on people-centered tourism, which requires addressing the Caribbean’s knowledge and skills gap. Affirming the critical importance of interpersonal relationships in tourism, she shared, “Research confirms what those of us in the tourism and travel industry know firsthand – that inter-personal, face-to-face interactions with others play a significant part in the visitor experience.”
Planet: Pointing to the Caribbean’s role as a guardian of fragile ecosystems, she underscored the urgency for “green investments and environmentally conscious practices.” Citing initiatives such as the Caribbean Hotel Energy Efficiency Action Project, she emphasized the Caribbean’s commitment to sustainability: “As a global brand, Caribbean tourism must continue to embrace best practices in environmental, social and governance activities that demonstrate our commitment to future generations.”
Prosperity: According to the CTO Secretary-General, the final pillar highlights the need for public-private sector and community collaborations to enhance benefits from tourism. She outlined the need for diversity, equity and inclusion, and cultural respect, stating, “The CTO supports the call of the UNWTO for new and innovative solutions and investments that stimulate and underpin the tourism sector’s growth, productivity and sustainability. It is a call to invest simultaneously in our talented human capital. When our people, our communities and our planet thrive, our industry and our destinations prosper.”
Building on the three S’s of Social Inclusion, Sustainability, and Smart Destinations and Businesses, Regis-Prosper envisions Caribbean tourism led by green growth, which involves green investments, green technologies, and green business practices.
The virtual forum was a combined initiative of the Caribbean Tourism Organization in collaboration with the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association, the University of the West Indies, the Organization of American States, the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States Commission, the Caribbean Broadcasting Union, and CTO allied members: the International Institute of Tourism Studies at The George Washington University, and Hibiscus International.