Brainstorming how to position the region as the leading place in the world for relaxation and rejuvenation will be a priority for Caribbean tourism industry stakeholders assembled in San Juan, Puerto Rico this weekend for the start of the 40th edition of Caribbean Travel Marketplace. But the gathering of hundreds of public and private sector tourism specialists is also an important opportunity to lend a helping hand to the people of Puerto Rico, many of whom are still reeling from the impacts of Hurricane Fiona.
While operations in the San Juan metro area have been restored and all systems are ready for this important conference, residents of the south, southwestern and mountainous areas of the U.S. Territory are still picking up the pieces and attempting to restore their lives and livelihoods, even as governing authorities make daily progress repairing the damage. Lending its shoulder to recovery efforts, the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) is coordinating a response with local partners to help communities rebound from the impact of the storm, which has left thousands on the island without electricity.
For anyone heading to Puerto Rico this weekend for the October 3-5 conference, they can share some love, support and much-needed help. CHTA Marketplace participants are being asked to pack a little extra in their luggage to help with the recovery.
Requested items include toiletries, school supplies, feminine sanitary supplies, canned food, first-aid kits, water filters, solar lamps, water purification tablets, and adult and baby diapers. If you missed the call to action earlier in the week, the regional trade association is also making arrangements for participants to make monetary donations at the Puerto Rico Convention Center during the conference.
Former South African president and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela once said, “There can be no greater gift than that of giving one’s time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return.”
As we expend our energies in response to CHTA’s rallying call, we also extend our prayers and support to the Dominican Republic and Atlantic Canada, the residents of which were also impacted by Fiona; and to the people of Cuba, Florida and the Carolinas, who have been affected by another terrible storm this season, Hurricane Ian.