The Chairman and the President & CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) on Wednesday issued a joint statement in response to the devastation caused by Hurricane Irma, aiming to extend the Council’s full support to all impacted destinations.
Irma, ranked as one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes on record, left a trail of destruction across the Caribbean last week before hitting Florida on Sunday. Irma was downgraded to a tropical storm on early Monday.
Chairman Gerald Lawless and President & CEO Gloria Guevara offered the services of WTTC and called upon WTTC Members to come forward and understand the ways in which assistance can be provided to the devastated destinations in the Caribbean and southern United States to ensure a rapid recovery for their essential tourism industries.
“Tourism is a significant driver of the Caribbean countries’ economies and local livelihoods, and the Caribbean has been a popular and high profile destination for many years,” Guevara said. “WTTC therefore commits to play a part in the region’s recovery, standing by to assist with the restoration of tourism markets and infrastructure as the Hurricane passes, impacts are measured, and the rebuilding can commence.”
According to the WTTC, travel and tourism generated 15 percent of the Caribbean’s GDP and 13 percent of the region’s employment in 2016.
“The Caribbean is a beautiful tourist destination… I strongly believe that both the travellers and the destinations will show their resilience and that once damage is assessed and the businesses re-open, travellers will return. WTTC offers to help in all stages of recovery,” Lawless said.
WTTC also offered to send a High Level delegation and advisors, when it is appropriate to do so, to evaluate and provide recommendations for solutions to assist with the recovery process.
In addition, on the occasion of its 22nd General Assembly taking place this week in China, the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) announced that it would be conveying a special meeting to address the impacts of Hurricane Irma and the way forward.