CHA Calls for Joint Mission to the US Capital

. October 14, 2008

SAN JUAN, PR, October 13, 2006. The Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA) is reaching out to all Caribbean Heads of Government to join an effort to minimize the potential devastating economic impact and loss of jobs in Caribbean countries by the exclusion of air travel in the extension of passport requirements. In individual letters to the Caribbean Leaders, CHA President Peter J. Odle, recaps the main points of the application of the passport regulations to the detriment of land-based tourism, including hotels, tourism attractions, and the wider tourism industry across the region.

Outlining the advocacy efforts of the Caribbean hotel sector over the past eighteen months, the CHA head stressed that each step was based on reason stripped of passion, following the findings of an Economic Impact Study on the potential impact of the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) that the CHA commissioned the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) to undertake. This is the only such economic study conducted to quantify the impact of the WHTI by any country or sector. Among the conclusions, the study found visitor exports to be in jeopardy to the tune of US$2.6 billion, with 188,300 jobs potentially lost.

CHA has maintained that any postponement of the WHTI implementation should apply equally to all countries involved and equally to travel by land, air, and sea, and that no country or industry should be disadvantaged arbitrarily to the economic advantage of any other sector. "It is necessary to develop a definitive and clear strategy to achieve the objective of delaying the introductory date for arrivals by air to June 2009, which is the same date as announced for arrivals by cruise ships," stated Odle, adding that "the exclusion of arrivals by air from the Caribbean from the extension given to arrivals by cruise has the potential to widen the negative economic impact and job losses beyond the 17 Caribbean countries [directly affected], to include the entire region."

The missive closes with a direct call to action, for a delegation of Caribbean Heads and tourism industry leaders to go to Washington D.C. to address the matter in accordance with its gravity. The Washington DC-based Caribbean / Central American Action and the WTTC have committed their support to CHA and the Caribbean Tourism Organization in this mission.

The Caribbean Hotel Association represents the entire spectrum of the hospitality industry's private sector, representing from the small guest houses to the mega-resorts across 35 national hotel associations, to allied members including airline executives, tour operators, travel agents, trade and consumer press, hotel and restaurant suppliers, and others. CHA's mission is to optimize the full potential of the Caribbean hotel and tourism industry by serving member needs and building partnerships.

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