NASSAU – The current chairman of the Caribbean Community, Bahamian Prime Minister Perry Christie, said on Thursday that the organization should cooperate with Cuba on tourism promotion in light of the easing of the U.S. economic embargo against the island.
Christie addressed the issue in his inaugural address at CARICOM’s annual summit in Nassau.
“Sooner rather than later,” he said, CARICOM must create “a multi-destination initiative with Cuba” to boost the Caribbean’s tourism sector.
He said that U.S.-Cuba normalization should not be seen as a threat to the region, describing it instead as an “opportunity” the 15-member body should seize.
In a more general vein, Christie pointed to the Caribbean’s need to leverage its human, cultural and natural resources to improve economic development.
He said the region’s high energy costs hurt the competitiveness of the tourism sector and decried CARICOM members’ dependence on food imports.
“It is time we must grow what we can and only buy what we must. This should be the CARICOM’s mantra,” Christie said.
The summit is to include a discussion with Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
CARICOM comprises Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.