Minister of Tourism Edmund Bartlett, in his position as chairman of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation's (UNWTO) Board of Affiliate Members, has appealed for aid for Caribbean islands devastated by Hurricane Irma.
Irma, the most powerful Atlantic hurricane in recorded history last week left a path of death and destruction across the Leeward Islands and the northern Caribbean.
Bartlett said that aid will most likely come from the UNWTO Sustainable Tourism — Eliminating Poverty Initiative (ST-EP) Foundation, which promotes poverty alleviation through the provision of assistance to sustainable development projects in developing countries.
While expressing deep sympathies to the people of the Caribbean impacted by Hurricane Irma, Minister Bartlett thanked the UNWTO for pledging to assist in rebuilding the tourism industry in the affected countries. “We are all a part of the regional tourism family, so it is important that we are willing to help each other in times of need. This week I will be in Chengdu, China, along with over a thousand tourism officials from around the world, for the 22nd Session of the UNWTO General Assembly and I plan to use the opportunity to appeal to my colleague affiliate members for further assistance to affected countries,” he said.
“Many of the islands devastated by the hurricane are heavily dependent on tourism. It is important that we assist in any way possible to help them to rebuild the sector,” said Bartlett.
Meanwhile, Taleb Rifai, secretary general of the UNWTO, called for an emergency meeting to discuss the impact of recent hurricanes on the travel and tourism industry and the future of tourism Caribbean member nations.
“Heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the victims and [we] stand ready to support the affected countries where tourism is a pillar in the lives of so many people, to recover as swiftly as possible,” said Rifai.