CTO Chairman – Richard Skerritt
Photo By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
December 04, 2011 (CUOPM)
Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), Sen. the Hon, Richard Skerritt has warned the region not to allow local political partisan interests to undermine the Caribbean’s main income earner.
Sen. Skerritt, who is also Minister of Tourism and International Transport in St. Kitts and Nevis, said given the challenges of the current world economy, there is an urgent need for all sectors in each island to work closer together.
Speaking at a tourism seminar in Grenada, he said local politicians must put aside their own partisan interests to ensure that the region’s tourism sector survives these times.
“Our tourism must be protected from the partisan tribalism that often divides us in these islands. We don’t have to like each other to work together in the national interest,” Skerritt explained.
“We just need to like what we do and love our country. We don’t have to agree on everything in order to improve our product standards and island experience for our visitors.”
The St. Kitts and Nevis Tourism Minister said the common national interest of preserving the crucial tourism sector must trump all other considerations.
Skerritt said an eminent danger to regional tourism is what he called local “political stupidity.”
“We don’t have to vote for the same party in order to recognise the value of tourism expenditure in our economy,” he said.
“We must therefore not allow the vital needs of tourism to be compromised by shortsighted political stupidity. Political stupidity is prevalent across our region.”
The CTO Chairman also warned about the eagerness to cut back spending on market competitiveness because of the crisis.
He said what the industry needs now in a time of crisis are wise investments.
“And while we have to be prudent in our own expenditure we must not allow overly obsessed cost cutters in our businesses and government to ignore the need for people development or in market competitiveness,” said the tourism minister.
“We should have passed the stage of debating this but across the region you will be surprised how many people do not understand this. You will be surprised at how many leaders in our industry, government and private sector do not understand that tourism wealth actually alleviates poverty,” said Skerritt in the CMC report by Rawle Titus in Grenada.