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Association of Caribbean States to Meet in Havana

The Association of Caribbean States will meet in Havana June 2 - 4. This year's theme: "Together for a Sustainable Caribbean." Photo: Cuba Business Report Staff.

The VII Summit of the Association of Caribbean States is to meet in Havana, June 2 – 4 at the Palace of the Revolution. This year’s theme is “Together for a Sustainable Caribbean,” focusing on multi-destination tourism to promote economic growth in the region.

Founded in 2006 to protect the Caribbean sea, its corals and erosion, the Association of Caribbean States (ACS),  is an organization with the mission to promote sustainable development of the Greater Caribbean.  Through “consultation, cooperation and concerted action in matters of sustainable tourism, trade, transport and natural disasters, the region works with member states including Antigua & Barbuda, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Mexico, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago and Venezuela. Its Associate Members are Aruba, Curacao, (France on behalf of French Guiana, Saint Barthelemy and Saint Martin ), Guadeloupe, Martinique, Sint Maarten, (The Netherlands on behalf of Bonaire, Saba, and Sint Eustatius ), Turks and Caicos.” Source

Manuel Aguilera de la Paz, Director General for Latin America and the Caribbean at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, said at a press conference on May 24 that the Summit will serve to strengthen unity between nation-states of the Caribbean.

On May 6, the Cuban Minister of Tourism Manuel Cruz Marrero signed an agreement with Jamaica concerning multi-destination tourism between the two countries. The Dominican Republic will follow suit and be signing a similar agreement in June. The expansion of tourism in the Caribbean demonstrates the need for coordinated multi-destination marketing.  Tourism, the major industry of the Caribbean needs to be based not competition between individual nations within the region but rather on cooperation.

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On the agenda at this year’s Summit of the Association of Caribbean States is the “Havana Declaration and Plan of Action” –  2016-2018 and the election of a new Secretary General to lead the ACS for the upcoming four years.

Tourism in Cuba has grown immensely over the last two years.  Cuba has received a record number of tourist arrivals in 2015 and continuing into this year.  However the continued U.S. economic, commercial and financial embargo is seen by the region as a continued barrier against regional cooperation.

The Caribbean is a leading cruise destination with the most popular itineraries based in the northern Caribbean.  Cuba is a part of this area.  The problem is that Cuba has been excluded from these cruise itineraries because of the U.S. Embargo.

However the scenario is evolving with the recent arrival of the Carnival cruise ship, the Adonia, which docked at three ports in Cuba. Other cruise lines have also been stopping at Cuban ports, including Thomson Dreams, Louis Cristal, MSC Opera and MSC Crociere Company. Royal Caribbean has also requested permission to sail to Cuba.

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The increase of cruise activity to Cuba emphasizes the need to strengthen multi-destination marketing and cooperation.  As the relationship between the U.S. and Cuba improves, it will permit the marketing and coordination of multi-destination tourism.  Attracting a greater number of tourists will promote the economic growth of the Caribbean region’s major industry.

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