The Caribbean needs to reinforce ongoing initiatives in sustainable tourism and other areas, in order to sustain the future development of the industry.

Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy, made this observation today, during the official signing of the Organization for American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Tourism Organization???s (CTO) Technical Cooperation Agreement at the Ministry.

The three-year agreement was signed by Minister Sealy; Secretary General of the CTO, Hugh Riley; and OAS Director, Ambassador Francis McBarnette.

He said it was important to ???have a constant partner??? like the OAS, and expressed pleasure that the long-standing relationship had been taken to another level.

???Traditionally, with the hemispheric bodies, they tend to focus heavily on the Latin American countries. So, it is good to see that ??? we are still able to get our fair share. Incidentally, the OAS Travel Congress ??? which will be held in Honduras this year, and previously hosted in Ecuador and El Salvador, will be held in Barbados next year. This is the first time that the Travel Congress will be held in the English-speaking Caribbean, and this demonstrates the desire for the OAS to get out to the English-speaking members of this hemispheric grouping that tend not to be as active as they ought,??? Mr. Sealy noted.

The Tourism Minister said the existing relationship would ???bring real benefit??? not only as it related to technical cooperation, but as the region becomes more united.

???As we become closer, we are not only speaking about the Caribbean Basin or the rim of the Basin, but also further afield throughout the entire hemisphere. So, from that point of view, I am happy to be a part of the signing because it is timely, based on the initiatives that we are embarking on in Barbados and the entire CTO membership,??? Mr. Sealy emphasised.

Meanwhile, Secretary General Riley said the CTO was pleased to be a part of the tri-partite agreement and pointed out that: ???The OAS has been a staunch and long-standing supporter of the region and the work of the CTO and this kind of collaboration and cooperation from an agreement such as this really helps to embody the whole notion of one Caribbean.???

He said by pooling resources together, and with the generosity of the OAS, the CTO had been able to deliver services and programmes to all member countries.

Ambassador McBarnette said the unique Agreement allowed the OAS to work with the Ministry of Tourism and the CTO, by ???bringing together a lovely nexus that would enable us to help Barbados and the region???.

The first four-year agreement between the Government, the CTO and the OAS was signed in September 1976.

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