Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, greets Executive Vice President of the BHTA, Springer, while Project Co-ordinator with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Joanne Persad (left) and Chief??Tourism Development Officer in the Ministry of Tourism, Nicole Alleyne, look on.
(G. Brewster/BGIS)

Taking into account the saying ???June, too soon’, the Ministry of Tourism and the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) have taken a proactive approach to disaster preparedness.

It has come in the form of a Multi-Hazard Disaster Management Symposium – Tourism and Disasters – Be aware, Plan and Prepare, which was held today at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre.

Delivering the feature address, Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite, stressed that preparedness could not be reserved to a particular season, but that there must be a constant state of readiness. He added that with natural events affecting all corners of the globe, developing states could no longer depend solely on assistance from international sources, but had to "take ownership for the preservation of [their] tourism plant", by minimising potential negative effects.

"Monies spent on risk reduction is actually monies saved; and I do recognise that in a small economy like ours…that monies available to invest in risk reduction may not be significant.?? However, as a country, we need to ensure that if there is an event, that the amount of damage is significantly reduced and our ability to respond is significantly enhanced," he observed.??

In his remarks, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Andrew Cox, explained that the half-day event represented government’s on-going efforts at disaster preparedness.

"The recent disaster in Japan has shown once again how the combination of earthquake and tsunami can devastate an island-state.?? Lessons learned from that event are hugely important for the Caribbean…The Ministry of Tourism continues to work with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Department of Emergency Management and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency in the area of disaster

management, [and] we commit to assiduously working with each sector to enhance preparedness and readiness for any event. The Tourism Emergency Management Committee and the Tourism Emergency Operating Centre of the Ministry of Tourism continue to undertake their respective mandates of planning and coordinating the industry’s response," Mr. Cox said.

Reference was also made to disasters closer to home, which, according to Project Co-ordinator with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Joanne Persad, further emphasised the crucial need for regional preparedness.??

"Haiti’s GDP [gross domestic product] for 2009 was US$12 million; the Inter-American Development Bank estimated damage to the Haitian economy was US$8.5 billion…the Caribbean tourism sector contributes on average 31per cent of GDP to the region.?? In Barbados, as much as 48.1 per cent of GDP is attributable to tourism-based activities.?? These figures emphasise the significant contribution the impact of this sector has on national growth and regional development," Ms. Persad said.

She lauded the stance by regional disaster preparedness institutions and tourism related organisations, which focus on the holistic approach of comprehensive disaster management (CDM).

"The essence of CDM ??is represented in the empowerment of regional and sectoral partners….I speak to the development of the Disaster Risk Management Strategy…developed under the Regional Disaster Risk Management for Sustainable Tourism in the Caribbean Project, which is sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank, and executed by CDEMA.?? We recognise that efforts made by the DEM and the Ministry of Tourism to adopt this strategy as the policy approach to disaster management, for this is the foundation upon which current initiatives can grow and blossom," the official added.??

"From this policy approach, therefore, growth and effectiveness will be monitored and evaluated, through the products from the Regional Monitoring and Evaluation System for Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation in the Caribbean Tourism Sector Project, another IDB-sponsored activity implemented by CDEMA," she stated.


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