Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Dr Ralph Gonsalves is calling on regional authorities to come together and tackle the issues that could harm Caribbean tourism.
But he also pleaded with industry figures across the region to come to his country’s aid as it seeks to develop the industry there.
“I need your help. I need your help very much in continuing. Those of you from overseas – from international and the rest of the region, and certainly our own people,” he told the opening of the 2019 Caribbean Sustainable Tourism Conference on Wednesday.
The two-day conference is being held under the theme, Keeping the Right Balance – Tourism Development in an Era of Diversification.
Dr Gonsalves told the audience that St Vincent and the Grenades was new to the tourism business and would be developing a sustainable product that would be “welcoming to everyone” but must benefit small businesses and communities to help reduce poverty and create jobs.
He insisted that as the Windward Island nations go through a socio-economic transformation they need help from regional counterparts to avoid some mistakes.
Pointing out that regional economies did not have all the answers or resources on their own, Gonsalves said there were several issues that needed a united effort to address including climate change, resource scarcity, aging societies, inequality, an increase in the use of artificial intelligence and “unilateralists”.
Stating that technology could play a great role in helping regional economies adapt, Dr Gonsalves said if the challenges and concerns are not tackled head-on, they could have significant negative impact on the region’s tourism sectorin coming years.
The conference brings together a number of regional and international experts to examine the economic, environmental and socio-cultural pillars of sustainability, and identify a holistic approach to developing a more sustainable tourism product in the region.