American Chamber of Commerce for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Launches Travel & Tourism Committee

There is a call for Eastern Caribbean stakeholders to work closely to protect the tourism industry from direct threats including Zika virus, recession and terrorism. This according to Chairman and President of AmCham BEC, Attorney at Law Dustin Delany, at the launch of the Travel and Tourism Committee (TCC) which took place on Thursday March 3 at the Cave Hill School of Business in Barbados.

Dr Alafia Samuels, Co-Chair of the Pan American Health Organization Foundation’s Technical Advisory Group

Dr Alafia Samuels, Co-Chair of the Pan American Health Organization Foundation’s Technical Advisory Group

The newly formed committee, established by the American Chamber of Commerce for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean (AmCham BEC), will work alongside key industry stakeholders to promote the overall improvement of the travel and tourism infrastructure in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.

Featured speakers at the launch included Dr. Alafia Samuels, Co-Chair of the Pan American Health Organization Foundation’s Technical Advisory Group, and Mr. Steven Redlinger, Senior Business Liaison at the Private Sector Office of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Dr. Samuels discussed the Zika Virus and other communicable diseases as well as non-communicable diseases and their impact on the travel and tourism industry. Dr. Samuels emphasized the need for workforce protection through education, prevention, and wellness programmes.

Redlinger provided the audience an overview of the DHS operations with a focus on how those operations impact security as it relates to the travel and tourism sector in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. The various DHS programmes were outlined including the Pre Clearance procedure that has been set up in various non U.S. jurisdictions including some in the Caribbean. This was of particular interest to many of the travel and tourism stakeholders in attendance.

Steven J. Redlinger, US Department of Homeland Security

Steven J. Redlinger, US Department of Homeland Security

Sasha Sheehy, Executive Director of AmCham BEC explained that “the tourism industry is critical to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean and it is important that we, its key stakeholders, do everything possible to protect this industry from outside threats. This event focused on what we can be done to mitigate some of these threats, in particular Zika and related health concerns as well as the overall safety of our visitors, which is amongst the topical concerns facing the region”.

Richard Pile, Regional District Sales Manager ESC/Haiti, a sponsor of the event, speaking with Dustin Delany, President of AmCham BEC

Richard Pile, Regional District Sales Manager ESC/Haiti, a sponsor of the event, speaking with Dustin Delany, President of AmCham BEC

In his opening remarks, Chairman and President of AmCham BEC, Attorney at Law Dustin Delany stated “Our travel and tourism industry, though resilient, continues to face many challenges even though we have seen some degree of improvement as most of the developed world has arisen from the lingering global recession. Needless to say, Zika, just like Chikungunya did a few years back, is starting to takes its toll on the industry.

The Center for Disease Control has issued a level two alert recommending travelers “practice enhanced precautions” on trips to the Caribbean. Common sense dictates that when these warnings are accompanied by mention of birth defects and significant and impairing neurological conditions, the result is detrimental to the travel and tourism sector”.

Through his introduction of the TCC, Delany expressed “the issues that continue to plague productivity and progress throughout the region are well known and need not be mentioned here this morning. Rather we take a more proactive approach in launching our Travel and Tourism Committee aimed at promoting the overall improvement of the travel and tourism infrastructure within AmCham BEC’s geographic footprint. Tourism is the cornerstone of the economies of Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean…the Committee looks to work towards safeguarding the sector and continuing to work with regional stakeholders in improving the travel and tourism framework. It is felt that the Committee is well placed to so serve the region in these capacities given the experience of the Committee and its access to the network and resources within Association of American Chambers of Commerce in Latin America and the Caribbean (AACCLA) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.”

On behalf of the TCC, it was posited “Though experts disagree on the lasting impact of terrorist attacks in terms of short and long term on travel and tourism the bottom line for us is that there is going to be an impact and that impact is going to be a negative one; one that our small market economies may not be able to withstand. Thus, it is imperative that Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean safeguard against this risk. It is satisfying to know that the Government of Barbados has recognized this risk and is in the process of implementing electronic finger printing at immigration; however, there is still a lot of work do to in securing our borders and further securitizing against these types of risks.” Redlinger looked favorably upon this new Barbadian Government programme reasoning that more information available, the more beneficial to mitigating terror threats.

The TTC will meet in the coming weeks to discuss its approach to achieving its mandate.

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