updated 7/1/2008 11:24:53 AM ET 2008-07-01T15:24:53

Caribbean leaders will seek common strategies to ease the impact of soaring fuel and food prices on their fragile tourism-dependent economies at an annual summit opening Tuesday in Antigua and Barbuda's capital.

  1. Don't miss these Travel stories
    1. Lords of the gourd compete for Punkin Chunkin honors

      With teams using more than 100 unique apparatuses to launch globular projectiles a half-mile or more, the 27th annual World Championship Punkin Chunkin event is our pick as November’s Weird Festival of the Month.

    2. Airports, airlines work hard to return your lost items
    3. Expert: Tourist hordes threaten Sistine Chapel's art
    4. MGM Grand wants Las Vegas guests to Stay Well
    5. Report: Airlines collecting $36.1B in fees this year

Political leaders of the Caribbean Community, or Caricom, will dedicate a full day to discussing ways of maintaining the region's crucial tourism industry in the face of high fuel costs and a soft American economy.

Tourism is the economic cornerstone of the Caribbean, which drew more than 15 million visitors to tropical beach resorts and colonial capitals last year.

Caribbean leaders worry that soaring airline-ticket prices and fewer flights could choke the stream of the vacationers that many tiny islands depend upon.

"We are poised at a very interesting period with some of the challenges that face us," said Harold Lovell, Antigua and Barbuda's Tourism Minister.

During a video conference, Caricom Secretary General Edwin Carrington told reporters in Antigua that leaders at the four-day gathering will also seek ways to maintain food security.

The Caribbean is grappling with a world food crisis as prices of corn, wheat, rice, soybeans and other farm products skyrocket. High oil prices and growing biofuel production have contributed to the pinch.

Only Grenada won't be represented at the summit, as Prime Minister Keith Mitchell prepares for the southern Caribbean island's parliamentary elections on July 8.

The 2008 summit marks the 35th anniversary of the 1973 signing of the Treaty of Chaguaramas, which established the Caribbean Community.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments