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BBC Monitoring Americas

Caribbean Hotel Association, Caribbean Tourism Organization Unlikely To Merge

August 12, 2003
Copyright © 2003 The British Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved. 

Text of report by Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) news agency on 11 August

San Juan, Puerto Rico: The Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) says, while it is willing to cooperate fully with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) in the development of the regional tourism sector, it is unlikely that a merger of both organizations would be in the near future.

"CHA and CTO must co-exist, parallel but separate, in order to serve their very distinct constituencies," says CHA director-general and chief executive officer Alec Sanguinetti.

Sanguinetti was reacting to a recent statement by CTO Secretary-General Jean Holder for a possible merger of the two regional tourism bodies.

"It's important that our members and partners understand that a merger of both organizations is not something that CTO has discussed with CHA or at the leadership and ministerial level. The goal continues to be an enhanced collaboration, wherever possible, to maximize opportunities, resources, and benefits," Sanguinetti said.

Sanguinetti said that CHA brings together the members of the Caribbean hospitality industry to address a broad range of issues that are common specifically to their development interests.

Over the course of 40 years, the organization has evolved from a straight trade association to one that is now actively involved in ensuring that the tourism private sector plays a developmental role in the region, he added.

"To use one example, CHA has a responsibility to serve as advocate of the hotel sector it represents. In that role, CHA actively lobbies the governments represented by CTO on issues affecting competitiveness, such as taxation and government regulations. Any merger of CHA and CTO would effectively neutralize such efforts," he said.

The CHA chief executive added that developments in recent years clearly support the private sector position. In 2001, the Caribbean Community (Caricom) heads of government decided to place the proposed joint regional marketing programme under the administration of what at the time was a private sector trust.

He said, since then, the public sector has come on board to jointly develop and implement the programme, dubbed "Life Needs the Caribbean".

Sanguinetti also noted that, last year, the European Union included the Caribbean private sector in its 8th European Development Fund (EDF) for the first time, designating CHA as the agency to manage the private sector programme.

In previous agreements, the European Union only assigned development funding to the public sector.

Sanguinetti also made reference to other examples of the private sector being more involved in the development process, noting that, most recently, Pro-Invest, a partnership programme of the European Commission, will join with the CHA in their investment funding programme for the Caribbean region.

In addition, the World Travel & Tourism Council and CHA are partnering to conduct research on the impact of tourism on jobs and the economy of approximately 27 Caribbean countries.

American Express has also teamed up with CHA to conduct consumer research on consumer trends for the Caribbean.

"The vote of confidence of governments and international funding agencies and organizations speaks for itself," he said.

Source: Caribbean Media Corporation news agency, Bridgetown, in English 1751 gmt 11 Aug 03.

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