By Gay Nagle Myers
FREEPORT, Bahamas -- Collaboration, cooperation, commitment and
coordinated air connections are the keys to the reinvention of
Caribbean tourism, Bahamas prime minister Perry G. Christie told
delegates at the CTC-25 conference in Freeport, Bahamas, this
In his keynote speech, Christie railed against what he described
as the "same old discussions that took place 20 years ago that
never accomplished anything but continuing competitiveness" in the
Taking aim at the airlines, Christie said, "Lock the CEOs of the
airlines in a room and refuse to open the door until they have a
plan to reduce losses and increases services to and throughout the
The prime minister addressed some other issues, too.
He said the Caribbean product is "the total visitor experience
-- from booking to the return back home. We have to improve this
product all along the line."
Christie said that the same intensity with which Caribbean
governments view their visitor statistics must be used to "stamp
out criminal behavior in every Caribbean country."
More highlights from CTC-25:
• The Bahamas was elected to a second two-year term as chair of
the CTO. Bahamas minister of tourism Obie Wilchombe, who assumed
the chairmanship in May following the Progressive Liberal Party's
election victory, will continue to serve as chairman of the
• Jim Hepple, executive vice president of the Curacao Tourist
Board, reported an overall 6% increase in visitors for the first
nine months of the year, with U.S. arrivals up 12%.
• A new niche market for St. Lucia is sports tourism, which will
receive heavy promotion in 2003. Arrivals are down 3.8% from
January through August this year compared with 2001, officials
said, and cruises business has fall 20% this year.
• The numbers for Grenada are good. U.S. arrivals from January
through August posted an 8.3% increase, with overall visitor
figures showing a 16.9% jump. William Joseph, director of tourism,
said US Airways' new service out of Philadelphia, which begins in
December, is expected to boost those figures even more.