Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. 27 September 2023. The devastation of the travel and tourism industry, both globally and regionally, as a result of COVID-19, provided a multitude of lessons learnt and allows for the opportunity to re-evaluate and restructure the way forward regarding tourism investments that align to the United Nations Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs).
Under the theme of “Tourism & Green Investments” for World Tourism Day 2023, the United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has highlighted investments as one of the fundamental pillars for tourism’s recovery and its future expansion and development. The UNWTO calls for additional and better-directed traditional and non-traditional investments for People, for Planet and for Prosperity, to provide a tourism environment to: (i) deliver on its extensive potential to provide opportunities for people through investment in education and skills, (ii) foster resilient and accelerate climate action and greater sustainability for the planet through investment in sustainable infrastructure and accelerating green transformation, and (iii) deliver inclusive prosperity by investing in innovation, technology and entrepreneurship.
The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) and its Regional Tourism and Health Program (THP), as an Affiliate Member of the UNWTO, stands in solidarity with the UNWTO and other international and regional tourism stakeholders, including the Caribbean Tourism Organization, and the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, in commemoration of World Tourism Day 2023, observed annually on 27th September.
The Caribbean region is heavily dependent on visitor arrivals and is expected to welcome between 31.2 and 31.6 million tourists in 2023, possibly surpassing pre-COVID-19 numbers. The Caribbean’s high interconnectedness with porous borders, reliance on tourism, and susceptibility to climatic change and disasters increase the region's exposure and vulnerability to pandemic risks. Health must therefore be intertwined into Caribbean tourism to promote sustainable tourism and thereby, sustainable economies, social and economic well-being.
The THP was developed to strengthen regional and national health systems and enhance the health of visitor and resident populations through seeking to address the health, safety, and environmental sanitation threats to tourism (in accordance with CARPHA’s Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA)).
The THP adopts a multi-faceted, multisectoral approach for improving the resilience of the tourism industry and by extension, the health sector of each participating country through surveillance, response, guidelines, capacity building, standards, policy, advocacy and partnerships, and a travellers’ health award and app. This integrated program, first of its kind, continues to pioneer in setting an international precedent for improving sustainable tourism and health security whilst engaging and collaborating with Member States.
CARPHA urges its Member States to advocate and promote the implementation of the THP for enabling health and safety measures to prevent and manage travel and tourism related illnesses. This will facilitate healthier, safer tourism recovery and sustainability of Caribbean economies.