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Saturday, April 15, 2006 

14 April 2006

New Agreement Aims To Help Caribbean Region's Tourist Industry

Tourism ranked as Caribbean's main source of revenue

By Eric Green

Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- A new agreement between the Organization of American States (OAS) and representatives of several Caribbean tourist groups aims to attract more tourists to the nations of the Caribbean, the OAS announced.

In an April 13 statement, the OAS said the agreement signed that day will help with training and other key elements to build the Caribbean’s tourist industry, which the OAS says is the region's principal revenue source.

OAS Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza, who signed the agreement for his organization, cited statistics ranking Caribbean travel and tourism as the world's number one contributor to regional economies, as the industry accounts for some 16.4 percent of gross domestic product and 2.6 million jobs overall in Caribbean countries. Insulza signed the agreement at OAS headquarters in Washington with the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Caribbean Hotel Association.

Vincent Vanderpool-Wallace, general secretary of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, said the Caribbean is the most "tourism-dependent area in the whole world" and therefore "we should be doing tourism better than anybody else."

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) calls tourism the "backbone" for the Caribbean region's “economic vitality," but adds that the region's success in attracting tourists threatens the Caribbean's “precious natural resources” that attract tourists to the region.

With this in mind, USAID’s Caribbean Regional Program funds activities to promote sustainable development in the region, which include helping the Caribbean nations deal with vulnerabilities to natural and environmental disasters.

The United States and the other nations involved in the Summit of the Americas process have expressed support for addressing the special concerns of the Caribbean's small island states, which, in addition to environmental vulnerability, include illicit drug trafficking, illegal trade in arms, increasing levels of crime and corruption, the transportation of nuclear waste and economic vulnerability (particularly in relation to trade), health threats such as HIV/AIDS and increased levels of poverty.

For additional information, see Summit of the Americas.

More information about the Caribbean Regional Program is available on the USAID Web site.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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