Gay Nagle Myers
Gay Nagle Myers

Although the top issues at the fifth Summit of the Americas will be the current economic crisis and access to increased credit and lending, Caribbean tourism leaders are hoping that issues facing tourism in the region will be on the table.

Trinidad will be the first Caribbean country to host the summit, which will bring together government officials from the 34 countries that make up the Organization of American States to discuss broad issues of cooperation, energy, security, environmental sustainability and balanced partnerships. The event will be held at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad in Port of Spain from April 17 to 19.

The summit will offer the first opportunity for President Barack Obama "to listen to his colleagues from the Americas, promote his doctrine of partnership and cooperation, and engage in dialogue with the hemisphere leaders," according to Jeffrey Davidow, the White House summit advisor.

Michelle Obama will accompany the president to the summit.

Russell George, general manager of the 428-room Hyatt Regency Trinidad, which opened in December 2007, said the property was sold out, as were all of the capital's major hotels, inns and guesthouses. The Hyatt's 16,000-square-foot grand ballroom and the smaller 10,000-square-foot ballroom will be used for summit sessions and receptions.

The government may lease two cruise ships to house government delegations and media attending the conference. Streets in parts of the capital city will be closed to vehicular traffic and businesses near the Hyatt will be shuttered; air access also will be curtailed while the leaders come and go. Trees bordering Piarco Airport outside of Port of Spain were deemed security risks and were cut down.

Obama will lead a 1,000-member delegation, which will arrive with a fleet of 25 aircraft, according to the Trinidad Express.

Summit security arrangements are in full swing. Police and soldiers from several nations will provide security for Obama and other leaders. Hundreds of troops from Barbados, Belize, Guyana Suriname and other nations will bolster Trinidad's security forces.

Leaders are expected to sign the Declaration of the Port of Spain, which will outline policy goals in the fields of energy, education, environment and health during the summit.

Although Obama recently eased restrictions on travel to Cuba for relatives and family members, announcements on broader changes on U.S. policies toward Cuba are not expected at the summit, according to the White House.

It is not known whether Cuba will attend and if so, who will represent Cuba. Venezuela President Hugo Chavez will attend.

Click here for more in formation on the summit.


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