Opinion: Life needs the Caribbean and it needs you

Opinion: Life needs the Caribbean and it needs you

Islands rely on tourism, and visitors are urged to continue support, says Carol Hay, director of marketing UK and Europe at Caribbean Tourism Organisation

The Caribbean benefits from verdant rainforests, spectacular volcanoes, mountains and hills, breathtaking beaches and a truly tropical climate, which includes storms and hurricanes.

The first two weeks of September have certainly kept the Caribbean in the news, and the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma in this region cannot be understated.

As the Caribbean counts the cost and moves toward the arduous task of rebuilding, many questions will be asked by those planning to visit the region over the next few months.

September is traditionally celebrated as Caribbean month by the trade and media in the UK, and the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and its member countries have a full calendar to celebrate the region. Are we going ahead with our plans? Absolutely.

Helping affected countries

While we continue to recognise Caribbean month, we are also taking the opportunity to garner support and to raise funds for the countries that bore the full brunt of the hurricane.

There is extensive rebuilding to be undertaken, not only in the resorts, but also in the communities, where many of the dedicated staff who support the industry reside. It is critical that we take care of our residents’ needs, so they have the resources to continue to support their families.

That is why the CTO has activated its CTO Relief Fund through GoFundMe. It’s crucial that we help families and countries rebuild after hurricanes, especially a hurricane like Irma.

All the money we raise through the Relief Fund will be sent directly to member destinations affected, and we must provide financial relief to those who need it. All donations to help these countries rebuild will be much appreciated.

The recovery process will be long for some countries, but many have already started the clean-up, and some are welcoming visitors to their shores.

Visitors are welcome

We are a resilient region and while we will do all we can to support those affected, for the sustainability of our region, those that can, remain open for business. We are also highly appreciative of the airlines, hotels, cruise lines, overseas governments and aid agencies, and everyone that has played a part in ensuring the region recovers as quickly as possible.

We don’t want visitors to turn away from the Caribbean. The islands’ meteorology means inclement weather, so we will continue to implement sustainable and environmental practices to mitigate risks where we can, and ensure that we work closely with the relevant agencies to minimise risks to visitors and residents.

Yes, we are open for business, and as we prepare for the winter season, and the rebuilding of affected areas, we look forward to the continued support and encouragement that we have received from the travel trade across the UK.

We are still the same desirable region, filled with energy, vibrancy, excellent cuisine, fine rums and tropical cocktails, with pulsating vibes, warm and friendly people, and heritage as richly diverse as our people. Life needs the Caribbean, and we certainly need you.

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