The Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association struck a familiar chord during its Caribbean Marketplace event held earlier this month in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Alec Sanguinetti, CEO and director general of the CHTA, said he is calling for a united front from Caribbean nations in order to help push through a US$10 taxes on airline and cruise tickets to the region. The money would go toward a fund to promote the Caribbean’s lifeblood tourism industry, which, like many other sectors, has fallen on hard times during the down turn.
Sound familiar? It should. The CHTA has sung this tune before.
Enrique De Marchena Kaluche, CHTA president
And, if history serves as any kind of guide, the CHTA will be singing the same song once more in the future.
“We again urge unity for action,” Sanguinetti said during an address to about two dozen journalists covering the CHTA’s Caribbean Marketplace event that took place 10-12 January. The journalists’ briefing occurred, coincidentally, just a couple of hours before the earthquake that rocked Haiti on 12 January.
In theory, what the CHTA is proposing makes a lot of sense to me. Tourism is the bread-and-butter industry for many of these nations, so why not play to your strength and come up with more money to support one of your more profitable industries?
It’s clear there is significant money to be made. It’s just too bad that in 14 years, the CHTA has not made any significant advancement on the issue and the potential billions of dollars that could further help the region compete with other global destinations remains uncollected.
And if this latest call for action passes again without action, as has happened in the past, it doesn’t sound like there is much of a Plan B.
During an interview with HotelNewsNow.com, CHTA president Enrique De Marchena Kaluche said Plan B would consist of all the Caribbean nations acting independently, which he does not believe would be a fair scenario for all the islands involved.
“It will be isolation. Some of the islands will be doing much better,” while others languish, he said.
So what makes De Marchena Kaluche think this plea for a united front will be heeded?
“How will I know? I don’t know that,” he said.
That sort of answer leads me to believe we’re going to be hearing another call for unity from CHTA soon.