Region’s public sector tourism body and hemispheric agriculture agency ink cooperation agreement

tourism(NEW YORK, NY) 5 June 2014Ten years after they began an informal relationship the region’s umbrella public sector tourism organization and the western hemisphere’s agriculture agency have formalized an agreement to strengthen linkages between tourism and agriculture.  The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at a news conference today at the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel in New York City, during the CTO’s Caribbean Week, which celebrates Caribbean tourism and the rich heritage and culture of the Region.

As part of the MOU the two organizations have agreed to cooperate in areas that will help improve the livelihoods of agricultural and rural producers through their inclusion in the tourism value chain.

“The CTO is committed to strengthening linkages between tourism and agriculture because it’s a win-win for both sectors. Our cuisine is one of the most attractive and authentic elements of our tourism product, therefore stronger links between the two sectors can mean more memorable experiences for our visitors, greater economic independence for our farmers and a reduction in the Caribbean’s food import bill,” said the CTO’s secretary general, Hugh Riley,  who signed on behalf of the organization. Ena Harvey, the management coordinator for the Caribbean region, as well as agrotourism specialist, signed on behalf of IICA.

The two organizations have agreed to cooperate in the areas of trade and investment partnerships along the tourism value chain; food and agro-eco tourism; community-based tourism; health and wellness and spa tourism and culture and heritage tourism as it relates to agriculture and rural sites and associated events, attractions and products.

Some of the specific areas covered under the MOU include: strengthening of the institutional and policy framework to facilitate advocacy and joint promotion of trade linkages and investments between agriculture and tourism ; knowledge management and information sharing on trends, success stories, best practices and lessons learned in agrotourism development; training and capacity building of stakeholders in the agriculture-tourism value chain; inclusion of agrotourism sites and attractions in product development programmes of the CTO and  regional destination marketing; and collaboration on studies quantifying the contribution of agriculture to tourism and vice versa.

Ten years ago, CTO invited IICA to sit on its board of directors as an affiliate member. As a result of this overture IICA has made significant progress in promoting linkages between agriculture and tourism, in terms of trade linkages as well as the development of new and authentic tourism products in rural and farming communities, Ms. Harvey said.

“This success has been due in no small part to the commitment and support of the CTO.   We have collaborated on regional projects funded by the several regional and international agencies which resulted in the creation of a regional agrotourism strategy, a food tourism strategy, manuals and best practice stories, and partnering of farmers with hoteliers.  In addition, through participation on CTO committees and Sustainable Tourism Conferences, IICA has been provided with the opportunity to advance the issue of linking agriculture with tourism,” she stated.

On the signing of the MOU Ms. Harvey added: “We believe that through this collaboration with the CTO and our partners, we could contribute in a very tangible way to economic growth in our countries and to providing opportunities for the agricultural and rural sectors in the Caribbean to create sustainable livelihoods through linkages with tourism.”

The agreement is for an initial four year period.

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