CHA calls for trip to Washington to lobby against passport law
By Gay Nagle Myers
The Caribbean Hotel Association is urging Caribbean heads of state and tourism
ministers to go to Washington to protest
passport legislation recently passed by
An amendment to the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative, signed into law
earlier this month by President Bush, requires Americans traveling by air from the
Caribbean on or after Jan. 8 to have a valid
A reprieve until June 1, 2009, was granted to travelers making land crossings from
Mexico and Canada into the U.S. and for
cruise passengers returning from the Caribbean, Mexico, Canada and Bermuda.
Caribbean officials have predicted that
the legislation will have a profound negative economic impact on tourism to the
Peter Odle, CHA president, and Alec
Sanguinetti, CHA CEO and director general, were expected to meet with Caribbean ministers of tourism at an emergency
meeting convened by Obie Wilchcombe,
Puerto Rico’s five-year tourism plan focuses on hotels
By Gay Nagle Myers
Puerto Rico’s new five-year Tourism &
Transportation Strategic Plan, covering the
period through 2011, focuses on five key
areas to maximize growth of the destination’s tourism sector, according to Terestella
Gonzalez Denton, executive director of the
Puerto Rico Tourism Co.
The plan was unveiled during the PRTC’s
annual presentation to the tourism industry.
Gov. Anibal Acevedo Vila, who attended
the presentation, reported that the major
economic impact of the tourism industry
over the past year “resulted in more than $3
million, or 7.1% of the gross national product, from more than 5 million visitors and
created more than 16,000 jobs.”
Although the Strategic Plan focuses on
hotel development, product development,
quality and service, transportation and
marketing and branding, it is the area of
new hotel development that will get the
biggest push over the next five years, Denton said.
Currently, 2,308 hotel rooms, representing an investment of $777 million, are under construction, representing 50% of the
5,000 new rooms targeted by 2008. Another
1,000 rooms will be developed in 2007.
The PRTC’s new Tourism Development
Division, formed last January to
generate investment opportunities in tourism, produced the first
real estate catalog of government-owned properties that could be
developed into tourism projects,
such as hotels and other accommodations or attractions. In addition, the PRTC is working with
the Department of Commerce to Terestella
speed up the permit process and Executive Director
to reduce the costs of doing busi- PRTC
ness on the island, Denton said.
Other actions on the hotel
front include Puerto Rico’s first investment
conference next May and its first bond issuance to generate funds to acquire land for
A Tourism Master Plan, to be completed
in 2007, will feature an island-wide inven-
tory of tourism offerings, recommendations for new “tourism interest zones” and
a profile of industry trends.
Denton said that the PRTC identified 12
priority niche markets and activities that
“deliver on our promise to visitors that they
will be able to ‘Explore Beyond
the Shore,’ Puerto Rico’s tourism
The markets range from adventure and nature to culinary
tourism and wellness offerings.
Island promotional efforts will
focus on developing the Porta
Caribe region in the south.
Improving the overall skills of
Puerto Rico’s work force to pro-
mote quality and service “will
focus on client service, English
language skills, knowledge of the
tourism product and culture and entrepre-
neurial skills,” according to Denton.
In addition, the PRTC will launch ads in
2007 to educate Puerto Ricans about their
role in tourism and its importance in the
growth and development of the island.
the Bahamas’ minister of tourism, during
the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s annual conference, which opened Oct. 22 on
The objective of the
Oct. 22 meeting was
to hammer out a lobbying strategy based
on the responses of
and tourism ministers to Odle’s call for a
trip to Washington to
lobby for a passport President
extension for air travel CHA
to the Caribbean.
that any postponement of the WHTI must
apply equally “to all countries involved and
to all travel involved by land, air and sea.”
He called for “a definitive and clear strategy” to push back the new passport requirements for air arrivals to the June 2009 date
that the amendment sets for cruise ships.
“The exclusion of arrivals by air from
the Caribbean from the extension given to
cruise arrivals has the potential to widen
the negative economic impact and job losses throughout the entire region,” he said.
In recapping the advocacy efforts of the
Caribbean hotel sector over the past 18
months, Odle stressed that each step was
“based on reason stripped of passion” and
followed the findings of an economic impact study that the CHA had commissioned
the World Travel and Tourism Council to
Among the conclusions, the study found
that the Caribbean region could lose $2.6
billion in visitor exports and more than
188,300 jobs in travel and tourism.
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