Advocacy in Europe
Helping the Caribbean tourism industry have its voice heard in the region and abroad on a sustained basis has for many years been a key element of CHTA’s advocacy policy.
This has particularly been the case in Europe where maintaining high levels of visitor arrivals and visitor spend remains a matter of major importance to almost all Caribbean hoteliers and destinations.
For this reason CHTA continues to monitor closely developments in Europe affecting the industry, where necessary making representations on the industry’s behalf.
This has involved understanding the economic, social, political, and legislative environment and being aware of change that touches tourism; closely monitoring developments in the European Union, and in those institutions and member states that continue to provide development assistance for the region; and providing advice and advocacy support to member associations on matters of importance.
The importance of being able to do so is likely to increase as air services from newer feeder markets in Europe increase to include points of origin as far to the east as Moscow and St Petersburg. Advocacy in Europe also remains important as the region’s Diaspora make up a significant proportion of those travelling frequently to and from the region.
Making sure that Caribbean tourism is not overlooked or ignored
Despite the economic importance of tourism to the Caribbean and the central role that the private sector plays in its success, when it comes to governments and European institutions, the issues that touch on the success of Caribbean tourism from taxation to airlift are not well understood. This has meant that despite CHTA having achieved extensive language recognising tourism’s importance and requirements, more needs to be done to ensure tourism’s interests are fully recognised when it comes to policy making or the delivery of development programmes.
Small hotels and the industry’s development needs are often ignored because of the perception that the industry is foreign owned or too wealthy or that visitors will continue to arrive irrespective of taxation or rising cost. This mistaken view has meant that tourism has been under-represented in the institutions set up to consider where development funding might be directed; the funding needs of the industry have been largely overlooked; and the political clout necessary to deliver solutions of benefit to the industry has been harder to mobilise at both an all-Europe level and with revenue raising domestic government departments in European capitals.
An advocacy and communications strategy
Recognising that the issues facing the industry in Europe would not be addressed if there was no programme in place, the CHTA developed a communications strategy as a complementary activity to its mainstream focus on membership services such as marketing.
In this context CHTA has a programme in Europe that involves trying to change perceptions through : holding regular policy related meetings with the airlines, other industry partners, governments, and international hospitality industry counterparts such as the World Travel and Tourism Council; has met with different directorates of the European Commission; has regularly briefed Caribbean High Commissioners and ambassadors on tourism issues; and held exchanges with governments departments in a number of EU nations.
There have been many successes including having tourism recognised by European governments as a policy issue that requires higher level dialogue; obtaining European funding for a number of CHTA programmes that have benefitted members; and the continuing extensive dialogue with key decision makers in relation to the as yet to be resolved issue of the UK’s damaging Air Passenger Duty (APD).
What will we do?
Our advocacy mission includes:
- Identifying where the funding is and persuading those that hold the funding that tourism and hoteliers are worthy recipients;
- Working with the CHTA membership to identify what it needs and assisting members to apply for funding through signposting to funds and providing advice;
- Continuously monitoring funding networks to identify new opportunities for the tourism industry;
- Engaging with governments and institutions in Europe to make sure that decision makers and influencers understand the delicate balance of factors that contribute to a successful Caribbean tourism industry and its future prosperity; and
- Identifying policy that impacts tourism (for example transport taxes, new environmental regulations) and campaigning against such measures. The aim will be to ensure that through dialogue, the CHTA will be able to identify policies in the pipeline and have the opportunity to make their case before policy is implemented rather than after the fact.
What can you do to help?
- You can tell CHTA the issues that concern you most in the UK and Europe and put questions directly to those who assist us in Europe.
- Consider applying to join the CHTA’s advocacy committee so that you can be directly involved in the CHTA’s advocacy campaign.
- The European Development Fund’s 11th round is currently being agreed in terms of the final amounts available, how it will be distributed and what for. The CHTA will work to try and secure that some of these funds are directed towards tourism.
- CHTA is working with the CTO campaigning against Air Passenger Duty. Its aim is to have the structure of the tax amended by encouraging UK political parties to consider inclusion of such changes in their general election policies. This will require focus and commitment over the next 18 months. It is also monitoring developments of a new climate tax in relation to aviation that will be developed through the International Civil Aviation Authority. Remember, if tourists cannot get to the Caribbean because of cost we all have a serious problem.