New tourism-linked poverty reduction plan in the making

NEW YORK, USA, September 26, 2007 – St Lucia and the Dominican Republic are considering a pan-Caribbean tourism strategy to use the region’s multi-billion dollar tourism revenues to combat poverty, said an international non-governmental organisation.

Lelei LeLaulu, president of Counterpart International, said the strategy is being considered by president of the Dominican Republic Leonel Fernández, and Senator Allen Chastanet of St Lucia – both of whom were recently conferred with the 2007 World Leadership Awards, produced by Counterpart International.

LeLaulu said Counterpart was delighted that its laureates were “not sitting on their laurels but were actively assembling action plans to increase the value of tourism to all stakeholders, including local communities.”

Regional marketing, Caribbean competitiveness, carbon footprints and tourism linkages, agreed LeLaulu were some of the key issues the two leaders are expected to explore in the months ahead. Counterpart International and the Dominican Republic’s Global Foundation for Democracy and Development would be involved.

Senator Chastanet, St Lucia’s Tourism and Civil Aviation Minister, and President Fernández joined Paxton Baker, Executive Vice President and General Manager of BET J and BET Digital Networks, and President of BET Event Productions; Public relations legend, David Finn, Cofounder and Chairman of Ruder Finn; and the Caribbean’s largest carrier Air Jamaica in receiving Counterpart International’s 2007 World Leadership Awards in New York City last Wednesday.

“Integrating the Caribbean’s tourism players is now an urgent priority,” said Senator Chastanet, who thanked Counterpart for facilitating the exchange with President Fernández. “The President is a sharp, visionary leader who can assist us in regional efforts for self-determination and sustainable development by embracing our cultural diversity and languages,” said Chastanet, who had high hopes for the future of Caribbean tourism with sensible leadership and concrete action.

Addressing patrons at the Counterpart gala, President Fernández said “the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, St Lucia, all of our countries are trying to make a comeback (from the influence of European colonialism) and integrate ourselves into the global economy through tourism, through foreign direct investments, through the promotion of information and communication technologies, through trade.

“Through different ways, we are trying to make a comeback and integrate ourselves into the rest of the world – no more through slavery, no more through exploitation; it is now through pride, through a sense of dignity, through a sense of recognition of cultural identity. I think we as brothers and sisters can keep on this path, and I know the values of democracy, peace and social justice are no more a dream or utopia.”

Counterpart International, founded in 1965, gives people a voice in their own future through smart partnerships, offering options and access to tools for sustained social, economic and environmental development. Operating on five continents, Counterpart is supported by the generosity of its corporate and individual donors, foundations, host countries, multilateral institutions and several US government agencies.