SAN JUAN -- Enter the era of cooperation. A new collective initiative, described as long overdue, has been jointly formed by the Caribbean's three regional tourism organizations -- the Caribbean Hotel Association (CHA), the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA).

The new Caribbean Tourism Facilitation Committee will meet on a regular basis to examine issues such as converting cruise passengers into stayover visitors, exploring volume discounts on provisions common to hotels and cruise lines, developing regional marketing initiatives and revisiting proposals to create a regional tourism fund.

The three groups also will undertake joint research, share information and customer surveys and work to upgrade the tourism product.

Jean Holder, CTO's secretary general, described the initiative as "historic" and said the power of the three groups working together "has the potential to revolutionize Caribbean tourism in the best interest of Caribbean people."

The commitment by the CHA, the CTO and the FCCA "underscores the importance of tourism in the region," said Stephen Nielsen, chairman of the FCCA's security operations committee and vice president, Caribbean and Atlantic shore operations for Princess Cruises.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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