CHTA boss says Sargasso impact overstated

Frank Comito, CHTA chief executive officer told OBSERVER media that studies conducted by his Miami-based organisation suggested that the weed emerges in cycles.

He used the Gulf of Mexico as an example where “they had a huge problem last year and very little problem this year.

Comito said media reports that the Sargasso Seaweed has inundated every beach in the Caribbean are false.

“It’s isolated. There are certain patterns it may follow, but it certainly has not inundated the entire Caribbean,” the CEO said adding, “I think it has been sensationalised a bit.”

While acknowledging that, “it is a problem” Comito said the CHTA conducted a survey of its members to determine the level of cancellations related to Sargassum, and “it’s minimal, extremely minimal.”

“It’s a problem, but it’s not as pervasive as the media would lead people to believe,” the CHTA CEO said.

The Caribbean Tourism Organsation called the weed an “unwelcome visitor which can be uncomfortable and which takes away from the beach experience for our guests.”

The CTO said, in a statement, it is treating this matter seriously and with urgency.

Last month, OECS Environment Minister who met in Antigua & Barbuda mandated the OECS Secretariat to find ways to deal with the problem. Several media reports, including international publications reported that, “Caribbean-bound tourists cancel holidays due to foul-smelling seaweed.”

The press reported that the algae bloom is a threat to the economies of the globe’s most tourist dependent nations.

Sargassum is a natural occurrence believed to originate in the Sargasso Sea, a two million-square-mile body of warm water in the north Atlantic near Bermuda, although some scientists believe the current influx was brought into the Eastern Caribbean through the North Brazil Current and because it thrives in warm, nutrient-rich water, the Sargassum simply spreads throughout the region.

 

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