Last updated: 02:54 PM ET, Thu June 16 2016

Congress Advances Bill to Support Greater US Engagement With the Caribbean

Destination & Tourism | Brian Major | June 16, 2016

Congress Advances Bill to Support Greater US Engagement With the Caribbean

 PHOTO: CHTA president Karolin Troubetzkoy called the legislation “beneficial to achieve our region’s overall goals.” (photo courtesy of CHTA)

The U.S. government may be on the verge of a new agreement that is expected to support wider tourism to the Caribbean region. The U.S. House of Representatives this week passed the United States-Caribbean Strategic Engagement Act (H.R. 4939), described by officials as a first step in “further expansion on the collaboration between the United States and the Caribbean region.”

READ MORE: Caribbean Hoteliers Look To Cuba Following Challenging Winter Season

Introduced by Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), the legislation would require the U.S. Secretary of State and the administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to submit to Congress a multi-year strategy focused on enhancing engagement with the countries of the Caribbean and enhancing outreach to diaspora communities in the United States.

The bill would also require the State Department and USAID to identify agency efforts to prioritize U.S. policy toward the Caribbean; outline an approach to broaden outreach to the Caribbean diaspora community in the United States; outline an approach to partner with governments of the Caribbean region to improve citizen security and reduce drug trafficking; and establish a comprehensive, multi-year strategy to improve energy security and increase access to diverse, reliable, affordable and sustainable power.

Other objectives include outlining an approach to improve diplomatic engagement with governments of the Caribbean region; and develop an approach to assisting Caribbean countries in the diversification of their economies.

“We should be working to strengthen our ties with countries in the Caribbean,” said Engel. “That’s the aim of this bill, which would prioritize U.S.-Caribbean relations for years to come.”

Karolin Troubetzkoy, president of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, among a group of Caribbean tourism stakeholders who have lobbied the U.S. Congress for regional support, welcomed the proposed legislation.

“The bill is an important first step to see a further expansion on the collaboration between the United States and the Caribbean region and we hope that the appropriate funding will be made available to address the various requirements highlighted in the bill,” Troubetzkoy said.

READ MORE: Caribbean Destinations Continued Arrivals Growth Trend In Early 2016

She added, “We are all aware of the complex and diverse issues that affect many of our Caribbean nations and the strides that need to be made to jump-start our economies and create jobs, but also in the areas of climate resilience, energy efficiency, education and safety and security. Tourism is recognized as holding the greatest potential as the region’s economic driver.

“Therefore, a strengthening of our collaborative efforts with the United States can only be beneficial to achieve our region’s overall goals,” she said. 

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