Oct. 23, 2005 The region's largest tourism organization signed a memorandum of understanding with the Caribbean Hotel Association Sunday, pledging to work together to promote tourism as the 28th annual Caribbean Tourism Conference opened on St. Thomas.
The 30-member Caribbean Tourism Organization, headed by U.S. Virgin Islands Commissioner of Tourism Pamela Richards, represents government efforts to bring visitors to the islands of the Caribbean; the hotel association represents the private sector.
"It forces us into working together in a real and cohesive way instead of just ad hoc when we feel like it," said Berthia Parle, president of CHA, the association that represents some 800 hotels in 35 islands.
The announcement came at a luncheon for travel writers and government officials, who were gathered in the ballroom of Government House.
The event stretches over four days in which tourism leaders plan to discuss how to continue to increase and enhance the region's key industry.
Tourism in the Caribbean grew by about 5 percent in 2005, though islands like Grenada and the Cayman Islands posted massive losses while rebuilding from two brutal hurricane seasons.
While the Virgin Islands posted a 11.4 percent increase in overnight visitors, Grenada lost more than 36 percent and the Caymans lost more than 53 percent.
Grenadian officials said 95 percent of hotel rooms were destroyed by Hurricane Ivan in September 2004, but that many were rebuilt and ready to open for the 2005 tourism season in December.
In the meantime Grenada is concentrating on cruise ships.
Details of the memorandum of understanding were not made available to the press on Sunday.
Share your reaction to this news with other Source readers. Please include headline, your name and city and state/country or island where you reside.