CTO and IICA agree to strengthen linkages between tourism and agriculture (NEW YORK, NY) 5 June 2014 – Ten years after they began an informal relationship the region’s umbrella public sector tourism organization and the western hemisphere’s agriculture agency have formalized an agreement to strengthen linkages between tourism and agriculture. The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) at a news conference today at the Wyndham New Yorker Hotel in New York City, during the CTO’s Caribbean Week, which celebrates Caribbean tourism and the rich heritage and culture of the Region. As part of the MOU the two organizations have agreed to cooperate in areas that will help improve the livelihoods of agricultural and rural producers through their inclusion in the tourism value chain. “The CTO is committed to strengthening linkages between tourism and agriculture because it’s a win-win for both sectors. Our cuisine is one of the most attractive and authentic elements of our tourism product, therefore stronger links between the two sectors can mean more memorable experiences for our visitors, greater economic independence for our farmers and a reduction in the Caribbean’s food import bill,’said the CTO’s secretary general, Hugh Riley, who signed on behalf of the organization. Ena Harvey, the management coordinator for the Caribbean region, as well as agrotourism specialist, signed on behalf of IICA. The two organizations have agreed to cooperate in the areas of trade and investment partnerships along the tourism value chain; food and agro-eco tourism; community-based tourism; health and wellness and spa tourism and culture and heritage tourism as it relates to agriculture and rural sites and associated events, attractions and products. Some of the specific areas covered under the MOU include: strengthening of the institutional and policy framework to facilitate advocacy and joint promotion of trade linkages and investments between agriculture and tourism ; knowledge management and information sharing on trends, success stories, best practices and lessons learned in agrotourism development; training and capacity building of stakeholders in the agriculture-tourism value chain; inclusion of agrotourism sites and attractions in product development programmes of the CTO and regional destination marketing; and collaboration on studies quantifying the contribution of agriculture to tourism and vice versa. Ten years ago, CTO invited IICA to sit on its board of directors as an affiliate member. As a result of this overture IICA has made significant progress in promoting linkages between agriculture and tourism, in terms of trade linkages as well as the development of new and authentic tourism products in rural and farming communities, Ms. Harvey said. “This success has been due in no small part to the commitment and support of the CTO. We have collaborated on regional projects funded by the several regional and international agencies which resulted in the creation of a regional agrotourism strategy, a food tourism strategy, manuals and best practice stories, and partnering of farmers with hoteliers. In addition, through participation on CTO committees and Sustainable Tourism Conferences, IICA has been provided with the opportunity to advance the issue of linking agriculture with tourism,’she stated. On the signing of the MOU Ms. Harvey added: “We believe that through this collaboration with the CTO and our partners, we could contribute in a very tangible way to economic growth in our countries and to providing opportunities for the agricultural and rural sectors in the Caribbean to create sustainable livelihoods through linkages with tourism.”The agreement is for an initial four year period. About the Caribbean Tourism Organization The Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), with headquarters in Barbados and offices in New York and London, is the Caribbean’s tourism development agency comprising membership of over 30 countries and territories including Dutch, English, French and Spanish, as well as a myriad of private sector allied members. The CTO’s vision is to position the Caribbean as the most desirable, year round, warm weather destination, and its purpose is Leading Sustainable Tourism – One Sea, One Voice, One Caribbean. Among the benefits to its members the organization provides specialized support and technical assistance in sustainable tourism development, marketing, communications, advocacy, human resource development, event planning & execution and research & information technology. In addition the CTO, in partnership with the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association, jointly and equally owns the Caribbean Tourism Development Company, a marketing and business development entity dedicated to promoting the Caribbean brand worldwide. The CTO’s Headquarters is located at Baobab Tower, Warrens, St. Michael, Barbados BB 22026; Tel: (246) 427-5242; Fax: (246) 429-3065; E-mail: CTObarbados@caribtourism.com. The CTO’s New York office is located at 80 Broad St., Suite 3302, New York, NY 10004, USA: Tel: (212) 635-9530; Fax: (212) 635-9511; E-mail: CTOny@caribtourism.com; The CTO’s London office is located at The Quadrant, Richmond, Surrey TW9 1BP, England. Tel: 011 44 208 948 0057; Fax: 011 44 208 948 0067; E-mail: CTOlondon@caribtourism.com; For more information on the Caribbean Tourism Organization please visit www.OneCaribbean.org. Get the latest CTO updates on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/ctotourism. Connect with CTO on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CaribbeanTourismOrganization .