Sunday, April 14, 2024

IDB issues grant to improve Regional tourism health in the Caribbean

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Belize is among six Caribbean countries that will benefit from an $800,000US Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) grant aimed at the development and implementation of a Regional tourism health information, monitoring and response system. The grant was signed on Wednesday, January 27th at a ceremony in Trinidad and Tobago and will benefit the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. The grant is being issued following the recent pandemics these tourism dependent countries have experienced, and is expected to build safety and environmental standards within the tourism industry of each respective country.

(L-R) Secretary General of the CTO, Hugh Riley; Shamfa Cudjoe, Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Tourism; Dr James Hospedales, Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA)
(L-R) Secretary General of the CTO, Hugh Riley; Shamfa Cudjoe, Trinidad and Tobago Minister of Tourism; Dr James Hospedales, Executive Director of the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA)

The countries benefiting from the grant have in one way of the other, been affected by Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), H1N1 flu virus (swine flu), Chikungunya and, now, Zika virus. This has led to the urgent need of a monitoring and response system, as these are travel related illnesses which need to be addressed in order to support the tourism sector. It is IDB’s goal that with this grant, the countries adopt comprehensive and effective health and environmental sanitation practices.

As recipients of the grant, each country will be implementing a three-year regional tourism health initiative to strengthen their public health system as well as their tourism product. This will be done through increases in training programs related to food and environment safety and standards. The initiatives will be enforced by the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), along with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Caribbean Hotel Association (CTA). By the end of the initiative, the countries should have fewer and less costly outbreaks and other negative public health events occurring in the tourism industry resulting in a healthier and safer Caribbean for both citizens and overseas visitors.

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