By Lincoln DePradine
Members of the Caribbean diaspora are being lauded for the response they have given to assist in the region’s recovery from the effects of Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Hugh Riley, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), made the commendation, while visiting with other members of the organization and participating in a series of events in Toronto and Montreal, to mark this year’s Caribbean Week in Canada.
Riley, who also had other tourism officials from the region with him, said, “we owe the diaspora a tremendous debt of gratitude for being good citizens and for stepping up when the region needs them. The Caribbean diaspora stepped up and continues to do so.”
Meanwhile, Fedeesaid although it’s been a very difficult time for the islands impacted by the hurricanes, the situation reinforced the idea of the need for the region to stay, work and forge ahead together.
“We have recognized,” Fedee said,“that the Caribbean is strongest when all of our individual parts are operating at an optimum, and that is what we have to do.”
In addressing a press conference that was also attended by St Lucia’s tourism minister Dominic Fede, Riley said that visitors’ arrivals in the region, from Canada, have grown in the last year.
He said, “Canada was a strong performer during the first half of 2017, with arrivals (to the Caribbean) from this market (Canada) up 6.4 percent, when compared to the same period of 2016.
“The Canadian marketis expected to continue to register growth this year, despite the hurricanes, which impacted about 25 percent of our member-countries. So, by the end of 2017, we anticipate the number of Canadians visiting the Caribbean to surpass the 3.4 million mark.”
Riley announced that the CTO is gathering funds to launch an “aggressive campaign across all media that helps people to understand that they should come now and visit the Caribbean and have the time of their lives.
“The Caribbean is indeed open for business; and, the affected countries are themselves on the road to recovery.
“We look forward to welcoming you to the Caribbean next year for wellness and rejuvenation. The best way to help the Caribbean is to visit the Caribbean,” he added.