Apr 28, 2017 News
…as Guyana and CARPHA collaborate to boost health, tourism synergy
The establishment of a web-based disease surveillance system for hotels, together with training for hospitality staff to report events that could threaten the nation’s health, is currently on the cards.
This is according to Minister within the Ministry of Public Health, Dr. Karen Cummings, who at a forum last Wednesday evening revealed that plans are also apace for the training and certification of hotel staff on food safety hygiene.
In order to achieve the foregoing goals, the Ministry of Public Health, and the Guyana Tourism Authority (GTA) in collaboration with the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) launched the Tourism and Health Programme, under the theme “Your Experience, Your Health, Your Safety Matters”.
The opening ceremony at the Kingston, Georgetown Marriott Hotel, which was chaired by Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Shamdeo Persaud, saw, in addition to Minister Cummings, a number of other high level officials in attendance.
Minister Cummings in delivering remarks at the event said that the launch of the collaborative move was not only timely but very fitting as it envisages the establishment of a visionary approach to boost the collaboration between the health and hospitality sectors.
She moreover revealed that she is “delighted by the multi-sectoral collaboration” and added that “this tourism and health synergy is aimed at making the country’s tourism industry economically viable, as it seeks to match the regional and international standard of hotel service and hospitality while ensuring that the requisite health requirements are embodied in the programme.”
The collaborative move was nestled against the backdrop that tourism growth and sustainability in the Caribbean face serious health, safety and environmental (HSE) threats. These include disease outbreaks and deficiencies in food safety and environmental sanitation. This contributes to reduced tourism arrivals, which in turn impacts those whose livelihoods depend on the sector, and possibly leads to adverse economic and social burdens.
Guyana has recognised the need to strengthen its capacity in order to monitor and respond to health, safety and environmental outbreaks.
In opening remarks at the ceremony, Dr. Lisa Indar, Head of CARPHA’s Regional Tourism and Health Programme, said that the theme of the launch alone reflects the country’s strong commitment towards tourism and health. She said too that as Guyana positions itself as a leading ecotourism destination, it cannot afford the reputational damage as a consequence of adverse public health events, impacting on its tourism product, and on the health of its visitors and local population.”
In addressing the gathering at the launch too, Dr. C. James Hospedales, CARPHA Executive Director, said “travel and tourism is the ‘business of the Caribbean’ and we are the most tourism dependent region in the world. However, the industry is vulnerable to a range of HSE threats, and the intensity of movement of residents and visitors is now a significant regional health security issue.
Solutions to improve industry quality and competitiveness include attention to health monitoring and response, food safety and environment sanitation. These require a multi-sectoral approach to implementation.”
Director of GTA, Mr. Indranauth Haralsingh, also delivered brief remarks, during which he congratulated CARPHA for the initiative. He stated that the GTA sees the Tourism and Health Programme as an intervention that is critically needed and is committed to improving safety, security and standards in tourism.
It is expected that the programme’s health surveillance system and capacity building will positively impact on Guyana’s reputation and provide the country with a competitive advantage. It has long been deduced that enhancing sustainable tourism promotes economic development, poverty eradication and improvement of quality of life in Caribbean countries.
As such it is critical that to sustain Caribbean tourism, efforts be made to monitor and respond to travel-related illnesses and support tourism to adopt proper health and environmental sanitation practices.
In January 2014, CARPHA, in collaboration with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO), established the Regional Tourism and Health Programme to address the Health, Safety and Environmental Sanitation (HSE) threats in tourism. The aim is to improve the health and safety of visitors, and locals, thereby contributing to Caribbean tourism being more competitive, resilient and sustainable.
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