Thursday, June 5, 2008

Regional governments should take us seriously, say Caribbean youth

Youth share their views on Caribbean tourism at 12th CMEx Conference

Governments should take youth recommendations on sustainable tourism seriously and more youth need to get involved in initiatives that will ensure greater tourism benefits for the region, says the youth delegation at the 12th Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) in San Juan, Puerto Rico recently.
The youth articulated that young people will form the future policymakers within the region, therefore it is important that the seeds are planted now, that will ensure that the Caribbean is in safe hands when the time comes for young persons to take charge.
Youth delegate Kenrick Quashie from St. Vincent and the Grenadines, argued that even though youth have been given different avenues through which to express their views, their ideas are still being ignored.
“Over the years, through CMEx and the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) Youth Congress, youth have been given the opportunity to share their perspectives and make recommendations on tourism, sustainability and other pressing issues. [However], youth continue to be disgruntled because most recommendations are placed in the “X” file and stored at the back of filing cabinets,” he said.
“We as the youth have realised that whether or not older people are committed to sustainable development for tourism, we need to do whatever we can now; we are not waiting anymore, we have decided to do it ourselves.”
Since the region depends heavily on tourism revenue, the young persons charged Caribbean government officials and Non-Governmental Organizations to make a greater effort to ensure that the youth within the region are made aware of the importance of ensuring that Caribbean nationals tap into the opportunities to be gained from tourism.
Youth delegate and Junior Minister of Tourism for Barbados (2004-2005), Javon Griffith, said, “they (youth) need to understand that without the contribution of tourism to the Caribbean, the region would be rendered economically non-viable. Furthermore, they need to understand that this is why it is argued so often that the Caribbean is the most tourism dependent region in the world.”
The youth delegates are urging regional governments to include the youth in policy formations for sustainable tourism in the Caribbean.
Other areas of discussion included making a greater effort to include youth within the diaspora in regional tourism initiatives, since because of their status as cultural ambassadors; they also play an important role in ensuring sustainability within the tourism sector.
Based on the theme “Embracing the Diaspora, Connecting Communities”, CMEx was aimed at promoting dialogue between media workers, young persons, government officials and those in the tourism industry, in an effort to improve media coverage of regional tourism sustainability issues.
The five-day conference saw approximately 20 youth delegates along with movers and shakers from different countries across the region and North America, sharing their views on tourism and their roles within the process of transformation in the Caribbean.
Presentations by different youth delegates highlighted the tourism projects that they have undertaken in their respective countries and how they intend to ensure that the youth play a more active role in sustainable tourism.
Countries that were represented at the conference include: Jamaica, Barbados, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Canada, the United States, the Bahamas, British Virgin Islands, Dominica, Hawaii, Nicaragua, Trinidad and host country Puerto Rico.

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