The Bahamas received an open letter from the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) officially endorsing and supporting the country as a leader in the industry, particularly in this region.
The letter was presented to Prime Minister Perry Christie by UNTWO Secretary General Taleb Rifai at a ceremony at Government House recently.
In accepting the letter, the prime minister called on the region to continue to share its resources with each other in order to create the feeling of one destination and one Caribbean.
“There is no industry that is more effective, more efficient than and as quick as the tourism industry in generating economic activity,” Prime Minister Christie added. “And when we look at unemployment particularly for the young generation in our region, we should be alarmed and it ought to propel us into policies that are calculated to cause there to be the necessary improvements in being able to attract more people to the region and have them spend more money.”
Conference host and Minister of Tourism Obie Wilchcombe, underscored the importance of receiving such an honour – at a time when the country is celebrating 50 years of tourism.
“It is an open letter that seeks to endorse The Bahamas and to support all that we do in our number one industry,” he said. “The Bahamas is celebrating 50 years of tourism. It was in 1964 when we became a country that recognised tourism fully as an industry and then we travelled the road that ensured that we could do all that we could to lift our people from one state to the next.”
The tourism minister added that tourism is an industry that has worked and could work for all countries in the region if we work together and have the determination.
“An open letter, that is part of what we call the Golden Book of Tourism, is a letter which we decided to submit to heads of state and heads of government who believe in their hearts that tourism is a force for good and that tourism is a transformative force in social economic development,” Mr. Rifai said.
“It’s a recognition to you personally and to The Commonwealth of The Bahamas of how important you are to the international tourism community, in travel and tourism.”
Prime Minister Christie said The Bahamas kept working on a model of being able to generate a tourism industry that moved from being a seasonal one to full time.
“We witnessed over the years our sister Caribbean countries moving more and more to the conclusion that that was the right way to go,” he added. “And as we were challenged in our region with bananas, sugar and had to recalibrate our economies, which is still being done, tourism loomed larger and larger and more meaningful.
Travel and tourism also account directly and indirectly for about three to five per cent of global GDP, as well as 30 per cent of the world’s export of services.
“It is a massive multi-billion dollar economy and the challenge for the region is how much of it remains in the region and how much of it circulates in our economy for the betterment of our economy, bringing it one of the tenets of being able to ensure the people of the country feel the impact of the industry to ensure its continuity,” he added.