XII Conference on Regional Cooperation ends Tourism Office President tells other DFA important to form block for better representation

avril 2016Office of Tourism, Sandy Ground - President of the Saint-Martin, Office of Tourism, Jeanne Rogers-Vanterpool joined Territorial Councilor in Charge of Cooperation, Mr. Louis Fleming and officials from other French Caribbean Islands and French Guyana at the summit on the Regional Cooperation of the Antilles-Guyana that took place 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 the economic and the social aspects of the DFAs integration into the Caribbean.

This XII conference on regional cooperation was particularly relevant and timely given the adoption by unanimous vote of a Bill proposed by the Deputy Serge Letchimy on March 24, 2016. 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. George Pau-Langevin, the Minister of the overseas qualified the Bill as a “facilitator of discussion.”

Over the two days of the 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. Mrs. Rogers-Vanterpool was invited to take part in discussions on Tourism and the opportunities provided by this sector for integration and development.

One of the major topics of discussion within the Forum on Tourism was the issue of connectivity. Difficulties in aviation connections between the islands and other points in the Caribbean Basin that include long flight times, lack of direct flights and difficult connections were all seen as obstacles that hamper greater inter-regional business, tourism and integration. The visa issue was also a topic of lively discussion. For French Guyana this was a particular point of concern vis-à-vis Surinam. The Caribbean territories also had their concerns about how to facilitate travel to and from the countries, while maintaining the necessary levels of security against illegal immigration.

While in Guyana, the President of the Office of Tourism 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 Organization (CTO). The President encouraged the members of the Comité to join the organization and encouraged all the French territories to consider forming a block within the organization so that their interests could be better served.

Over 200 persons attended the conference, notably the Minister of the Overseas Department and Territories, Mrs. George Pau-Langevin, heads of the region, including President of the Territorial Council of Guyana, Rodolphe Alexandre, Alfred Marie-Jeanne, President du Executive Council of Territorial Collectivité of Martinique, Ary Chalus, President of Region of Guadeloupe, Martin Jaeger, the Préfet of Guyana, several ambassadors, as well as professionals from various business and educational institutions in the region. The conference was hosted by the Ambassador Delegate on Regional Cooperation Antilles/French Guyana, Mrs. Veronique Bertile.

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