Don’t even think about it!
This is the stern warning from a senior tourism industry official here to Caribbean governments who might consider a referendum on the future of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the regional integration process.
Newly elected chairman of the Barbados Hotel and Tourism Association (BHTA) Rosanne Myers said an exit from CARICOM, or Cariexit, by any member of the 15-member grouping should not even be a consideration, and that the priority ought to be on a unified Caribbean.
She also warned that the road to a referendum would be laden with potholes that could cause more damage than good.
“If you go the road of discussing anything other than Caribbean unity make sure that whatever decisions are to be taken can only be taken with a two-thirds majority or more.
“A simple majority, and one of four per cent majority, should not persuade you to do anything in terms of that kind of a referendum,” Myers said.
The new BHTA head paid Barbados TODAY a courtesy call this morning at the Warrens, St Michael office, where she disclosed that the grouping of hotels and tourism entities had scheduled a meeting for Thursday to discuss the impact of Britain’s exit from the European Union on the Caribbean.
Last Thursday, Britons voted by a margin of 52 per cent to 48 per cent to leave the EU, sending the pound spiralling and global markets into turmoil.
Myers was adamant that at this time of global uncertainty, Caribbean unity should be the main focus because “there is no way that we can navigate through everything that might happen except in a unified way”.
The general manager of Atlantis Submarines Barbados Inc said tourism authorities were prepared to weather the Brexit storm, even as she insisted “you shouldn’t have a knee jerk reaction that makes you do something today, that you regret.
“This is not the first crisis that the tourism sector has gone through. We remember the thing called 9/11, remember the greed of the banking sector that caused us to crash. We are not unaccustomed,” she said.
Meanwhile, outgoing BHTA Chief Executive Officer Sue Springer said the association expected to have a clearer picture of the overall Brexit impact in another two weeks time following feedback from partners in the UK.
“Once we have had that feedback we will be able to see very succinctly what areas, what demographics, are being affected. They will also be working with the airlines so there will be a cohesive plan amongst those tour operators and airlines because at the end of the day, they all need to be able to support one another and survive,” Springer said.