It is recognized that the Caribbean is the most tourism dependent region in the world and that the industry is vulnerable to health, safety and environmental issues, such as foodborne and enteric disease outbreaks, and climatic change. Dr C. James Hospedales, Executive Director of CARPHA pointed out that "challenges faced in the industry are preventable through collaborative efforts with regional and global partners to improve monitoring and response, training and standards. In so doing, CARPHA is responding to an identified need in the region as the majority of CARPHA’s member states are dependent on tourism."
In January 2014, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) agreed to work in partnership with the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) to establish a Tourism and Health Program. The program will continue to develop other strategic partnerships. Antigua and Barbuda’s, Minister of Tourism, John Maginley, a long standing champion for this program said" I have been supporting the need for a joint Tourism and Health initiative for the past eight years, since I was a Minister of Health. Our image and tourism product are frequently troubled by outbreaks of illnesses among visitors. This program I believe will strengthen the tourism economies as well as lead to healthier outcomes."
The goal of this program is to improve the health, safety, quality and sustainability of the Caribbean tourism industry thereby contributing to the industry and the region being more competitive and sustainable. Mr. Hugh Riley, Secretary General of the Caribbean Tourism Organization said "Partnering with CARPHA gives us access to an immediate and authentic source of information about health risks to the Caribbean. Through CARPHA’s guidance we will be able to assist our tourism stakeholders in understanding how best to handle a situation that might threaten the health of our citizens and our visitors".
The Tourism and Health program will achieve its goal through the implementation of an integrated health, safety and environmental management approach that combines sensitization, training, surveillance, monitoring and response, standards implementation, research and partnerships. Dr. Fenton Ferguson, Minister of Heath, Jamaica and former Chair of CARPHA’s Executive Board indicated that "This joint partnership between CARPHA and CTO is strategic and welcomed to ensure that visitors to the Caribbean and tourist industry staff stay healthy, and that our tourism-dependent economies remain sustainable and profitable."
Successful implementation of this program will also assist Member States to meet global commitments, such as those contained in the (revised) International Health Regulations (2005) for strengthening surveillance and response capacity, assessment and management of food safety events, and building human resources. The program will also establish and promote multidisciplinary, intersectoral and private–public partnerships.
Further information on the Tourism and Health program can be obtained by contacting Dr. Lisa Indar, Program Coordinator, CARPHA Tourism and Health Program (email: firstname.lastname@example.org)