Lee, speaking on the last day of the Statia Sustainable Conference, said governments must be kept accountable for how tourism dollars are spent.
“We need to know what tourism’s contribution is towards education, towards employment, towards tax revenues. So, in my mind, this boils down to open government, governments that are transparent, that are clear about how they function and how they spent people’s money. The more open the government, the better tourism will perform,” he said.
He also noted that the region must improve its data gathering abilities, especially as it relates to tourism.
“We need to get better at measuring what’s happening in our tourism industry and also we need to get better at measuring the importance of tourism to our economy,” he said. “Unfortunately things like tourism satellite accounting are not big in the Caribbean.”
The Statia Sustainable Conference came to a close on Friday.
The two-day conference brought together tourism professionals from around the region to discuss issues facing the industry and ways to ensure that tourism remains a viable part of the region’s economy.
During the discussions, Lee pointed out that there are several factors within the region that damage its overall tourism product. He said one major deterrent to travel is airline taxes.
“The airport structures, for complicated reasons, usually fund themselves through increases in tax fees. So all we’re doing is putting up barriers, preventing people from coming to our destinations,” he said.