CTO: ‘Bring home the business’

From left, panelists Hon. Richard L. Sealy of Barbados, Hon. Obediah H. Wilchcombe of the Bahamas and Hon. Lorne D.C. Theophilus of Saint Lucia.
Photo by Kevin Bollers

There is not time like the present to take on a new business venture.

Knowing your market is half the battle and for Caribbean nationals living in New York City, bringing those ideas to contribute to the economy is in high demand.

During the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) Diaspora Forum, leading policymakers and representatives of Caribbean countries discussed the importance of “bringing home the business.”

“While the Diaspora want to continue to be ambassadors, they have also indicated that they wish to do more; Diaspora entrepreneurs say they wish to invest at home and want to know what opportunities are in the tourism sector and how to access these opportunities,” Sylma Brown, director of the CTO New York office, said according to the CTO website.

The panel included distinguished members within the tourism industry featuring: Lorne D.C. Theophilus of Saint Lucia, Assemblyman Tracy Davidson-Celestine of Tobago, Ambassador for Humanitarian and Diaspora Affairs Derrick James of Grenada, Obediah H. Wilchcombe of the Bahamas and Richard L. Sealy of Barbados.

Each member of the panel had a moment to discuss changes, improvements or policies in motion occurring at their specific island. Many of the panelists focused on the importance and difficult task in securing participation from Caribbean natives and descendants to return to their home countries and establish businesses.

“I’m not sure we truly understand the impact of the Caribbean people even in the United States,” Wilchcombe said. “How do we get the diaspora involved?”

Much of the discussion focused on ways new policies and legislation could potentially make members of the diaspora more comfortable in investing into the Caribbean through protections and incentives. “Investment is important but they must feel like they are a part of the conversation. We need new policies to encourage those investments,” Ambassador James said. “How do we give them incentives and policies to come back home and invest.”

Aside from the panel discussion, other presenters provided views on how they are currently working to invest and contribute to the Caribbean.

Brooklyn native, Sabra Richardson, presented how she has moved away from discussing ways to contribute into action.

“There is a target audience,” Richardson said. “We have to be conscientious on what we bring to the table in terms of business.”

Listing ideas for eco-tourism — moving away from other over-used marketing tactics like Trinidad’s famed carnival — Richardson presented ways using the island’s natural beauty as a selling feature.

The panel wrapped with questions and suggestions from the audience and a brief reception.

Reach reporter Alley Olivier at (718) 260–8310 or e-mail her at aoliv[email protected]nglocal.com. Follow Alley on Twitter @All3Y_B.

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