Advocacy in Europe
8th European Development Fund (EDF)
In 2003, CHTA signed an agreement with CARIFORUM and the European Union to execute a component of the Caribbean Regional Sustainable Tourism Development Programme funded under the 8th European Development Fund (EDF). The program marked the first time that the European Union provided funding to the Caribbean's tourism private sector.
Estimated at Euro 8 million, this program is designed to be implemented over a five year period. CHTA, CTO, and the Pontifical Catholic University Madre y Maestra (PUCMM) in the Dominican Republic are the implementing agencies of this program.
The overall objective of the Program is to contribute to economic growth and poverty alleviation of CARIFORUM countries through increased competitiveness and sustainability of the Caribbean tourism sector. Sustainability represents the main concern of the program; in this respect, the essential aim is to build up a real tourism economy, based on high value added, niche-oriented products.
The program also has a major research and information technology component that will strengthen CHTA's research capacity. The program is expected to come to completion in 2008.
PROFIT in the Caribbean
In August 2003, PRO£INVEST announced it had selected CHTA to team up for the staging of a partnership meeting for the Caribbean tourism sector. The main objective of PROFIT in the Caribbean is to promote partnership and investment opportunities in the tourism industry sector by bringing together enterprises from the Caribbean and Europe.
The successful inaugural edition of PROFIT was organized as a stand-alone event in October 2004, in Jamaica, with the collaboration of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), the World Tourism Travel Council (WTTC) and the International Hotel and Restaurant Association (IH&RA).
A follow-up meeting was held in conjunction with CHTIC 2005 in Barbados, taking the established regional investment conference to a new level with a business component. The main objective was to create a sustainable forum for bringing together business partners from the EU and third countries to promote investment in and development of the tourism sector in the ACP Caribbean.
The event provided a major business-to- business opportunity for the Caribbean tourism sector with special support for small, medium and large scale businesses. EU partners include ICEX, FTO and Ubifrance, which collaborate with CHTA in the promotion of partnerships between EU and ACP Caribbean companies.
Advocacy in action: The CHTA has been the beneficiary of some PRO£INVEST funding support. For example a study was recently completed by Tourism Global on the Caribbean Accommodation Sector as a Consumer of Locally Produced Goods and Services and Contributor to Government Revenues. The final report from that study was published early in 2007 and has been very favourably received by industry
stakeholders eager for hard data to support positions on the economic impact of the Caribbean tourism industry.
Other projects for which the CHTA will seek PRO£INVEST support are currently under development.
Workshop on Caribbean Tourism
In November 2003, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) mounted the first-ever policy workshop on tourism to be held by any European government. Its broad objective was to better understand how tourism relates to European policy towards the Caribbean and how tourism can be made more central to the political, economic and development policy dialogue between all European Union capitals, the European Commission, and the Caribbean.
The two-day meeting was highly successful, with four of the six final recommendations for action having originated in the opening remarks of then CHTA President Simón Suárez. Following up on the workshop, CHTA met with Member of Parliament, the Rt. Hon George Foulkes, and John Marshall Esq., Head of the Caribbean Unit of the FCO, in London, to explore in more detail the areas where the British Government may collaborate with the Caribbean tourism industry.
CHTA is now in the process of evaluating the development and research areas for which they will seek support from the British Government. Among them, the development of a Tourism Investment Fund has already been identified as a priority. The Fund would be the first step to get adequate capital mobilized within the Caribbean for financing, with a view to making projects attractive to international financial institutions. It would target indigenous, small hotels, which are under a heavy debt burden.
Twelve months after the first-ever Caribbean tourism policy workshop and following an aggressive agenda of meetings in the United Kingdom and Brussels throughout the year, CHTA culminated its advocacy efforts in 2004 with another milestone, the successful meeting between the key senior players of the European Parliament and Joint Parliamentary Assembly and the Caribbean tourism industry.
The co-chair of the European Union / African Caribbean Pacific (ACP) Joint Parliamentary Assembly - Glenys Kinnock, MEP, presided over the meeting. Sharon Hay-Webster, Co-chair for the ACP side, also attended. CHTA's goal, going into the meeting, was to sensitize European and ACP parliamentarians to the unique position of tourism as the only path to development for Caribbean communities – and seek their support to ensure that tourism is moved up the EU/ACP policy agenda.
It was learned that the European Parliament Development Committee will produce a report and hold a hearing on tourism and development in 2005; CHTA's role will be to embark on a campaign to ensure that it was included in the EU’s priorities.