Chelston Brathwaite, Director General Emeritus of IICA, and James Fletcher, former Minister of Energy of Saint Lucia, have agreed that a connection between agriculture and tourism is necessary in order to transform the economic model of Caribbean countries.
The sentiments were expressed during a webinar moderated by Beverly Best, Director of External and Institutional Relations at IICA.
Brathwaite and Fletcher agreed that the pandemic has brought to light five of the Caribbean region’s main vulnerabilities: the impacts of climate change (evidenced by droughts and more hurricanes), countries’ debt levels, high rates of chronic diseases (such as diabetes, hypertension and cancer), dependence on tourism and food insecurity.
“The current crisis has demonstrated just how fragile our development agendas are. In 10 Caribbean countries, tourism accounts for more than 25% of the national GDP, while in Eastern Caribbean states, this figure ranges from 30% to over 80%. Tourism is the sector that has been hit the hardest, and it will be one of the slowest ones to recover, which will impact government revenues, employment and families”, remarked Fletcher.
The speakers underscored the importance of connecting the agriculture and tourism sectors in order to transform the Caribbean region’s development model.