MARIGOT– Difficulties with air travel between islands, high air fares, long flight times, lack of direct flights and difficult connections were among issues that hinder inter-regional business, tourism and integration, a tourism forum concluded at the recently held twelfth Regional Cooperation Summit in French Guiana.
St. Martin Tourism Office President Jeanne Rogers-Vanterpool joined Territorial Councillor in charge of cooperation Louis Fleming and officials from other French Caribbean islands and French Guiana at the summit in Cayennes from March 31 through April 1, 2016.
The theme of the two-day conference was “Integration of the French Collectivités of America into their Environmental Region: Through a Resolutely Economic Prism.”
The conference attendees looked at the issue from both economic and social aspects of the French Overseas Department’s integration into the Caribbean.
Over two days, conference attendees, including the various heads of the Regions and Departments of the French Caribbean, heads of tourism as well as chargés of foreign affairs participated in several workshops, forums and discussions. Rogers-Vanterpool was invited to take part in discussions on tourism and the opportunities provided by this sector for integration and development.
St. Martin Tourism Office noted in its release that the visa issue was also a topic of lively discussion and for French Guiana a particular point of concern vis-à-vis Suriname. The Caribbean territories also had their concerns about how to facilitate travel to and from their countries while maintaining the necessary levels of security against illegal immigration.
The 12th conference on regional cooperation was particularly relevant and timely given the adoption by unanimous vote of a bill proposed by the Député Serge Letchimy on March 24, 2016, the tourism office stated. The law proposal calls for greater independence of the various Collectivités in matters of cooperation. The Loi Letchimy specifically calls for greater freedom for the overseas territories to cooperate within their environmental region. Minister of Overseas Territories George Pau-Langevin described the bill as a “facilitator of discussion.”
While in Guyana, Rogers-Vanterpool met with the Comité de Tourisme de Guyane during an exchange that covered issues such as tourism policy differences and the benefits of membership in the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO).
The President encouraged the members of the Comité to join the organisation and encouraged all the French territories to consider forming a block within the organisation so that their interests could be better served.
Over 200 persons attended the conference, notably the Minister of the Overseas Department and Territories George Pau-Langevin, heads of the region including President of the Territorial Council of French Guiana Rodolphe Alexandre, President of the Executive Council (EC) of Territorial Collectivité of Martinique Alfred Marie-Jeanne, President of the Region of Guadeloupe Ary Chalus, Préfet of French Guiana Martin Jaeger, several ambassadors, as well as professionals from various business and educational institutions in the region.
The conference was hosted by the Ambassador Delegate for Regional Cooperation in the Antilles and French Guiana Veronique Bertile.
Source: The Daily Herald Air connections, visa issues, among topics at 12th Cooperation Summit