Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, December 4, 2015: Executive Director, Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Dr C. James Hospedales, is pleased to announce that the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has approved funding in the amount of US$800,000 for CARPHA to address health, safety and environmental (HSE) threats that challenge the sustainability of tourism in the Caribbean. CARPHA, who has direct responsibility for the execution of the project will work along with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel Association (CTA) to execute the project. Dr Hospedales pointed out that the Caribbean is the most tourism-dependent region in the world, therefore, the health of Caribbean economies is closely related to the health of its tourism industry. He said “monies from the IDB will allow CARPHA to develop a regional tourism health information, monitoring and response system; Caribbean-wide HSE tourism standards; and a training and certification programme to build capacity in food and environmental safety.” He further explained that health surveillance systems for travel and tourism implemented by the US Centers for Disease Control and other agencies have proven to be a key factor in reducing outbreaks. He said there is currently no regional or national, tourism health information, monitoring and response (THMR) system in the Caribbean and that this initiative to improve countries’ capacities to support health monitoring efforts can reduce tourism HSE incidents, and provide a healthier, safer, better quality tourism product for visitors and residents alike. CTO Chief Executive Officer, Hugh Riley, welcomed this initiative and is confident that the Region will benefit significantly as it will also improve recognition, reputation and comparative advantage of the Caribbean as a tourism destination. The Regional Tourism Health Information, Monitoring and Response Systems and Standards to Enhance Sustainable Tourism project will be executed in six participating countries (Barbados, Belize, Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago) from 2016-2019. The project will be implemented under CARPHA’s Tourism and Health Programme, coordinated by Dr. Lisa Indar, through a Project Coordination Unit (PCU) at CARPHA and a Regional Project Steering Committee, along with National Focal Points and a Private-Public Team in each country. The Regional Project Steering Committee will comprise of CARPHA, IDB, Caribbean Tourism Organization, Caribbean Hotel Association, the Chief Medical Officers and the Permanent Secretaries of Tourism in each country.