CASTRIES, St. Lucia: Eastern Caribbean countries have agreed to merge their resources to develop their tourism products.
Tourism program officer at the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Secretariat’s Economic Affairs Division, Dr. Lorraine Nicholas, says emphasis on joint product development is consistent with a decision taken by OECS Member States to move towards the establishment of an Economic Union.
The idea of regional marketing was discussed at a recent video conference involving the sub-region’s tourism ministers.
“Discussions focused on the consideration of further areas in which OECS destinations could undertake joint marketing initiatives. However, in that regard the ministers expressed very keen interest in the joint development of the tourism assets of the region.
“In particular they mandated the OECS Secretariat to identify a few major areas with potential for a collective approach to product development and to explore opportunities to jointly package these products such as festivals and similar events,” Dr. Nicholas said, adding that one of the key goals is to “operationalize” the concept of presenting the OECS to the rest of the world as a single shared tourism space.
OECS ministers of tourism have mandated the Secretariat to further explore the implications of a single shared space for the tourism industry in the region. The Secretariat was also asked to propose enhanced measures to facilitate ease of travel by sea and air for both OECS nationals and visitors to the islands.
Two specific areas emphasized by the tourism ministers were the need to expedite the clearance of yachts visiting OECS destinations through the establishment and extension of cooperative arrangements between individual member states, as well as the enforcement of measures to facilitate seamless travel through airports in the OECS and CARICOM.
“The purpose of the meeting was to essentially discuss progress on the implementation of tourism-related mandates arising from a series of policy meetings held earlier this year. This is with a view to advancing and fine tuning responses to the impact of the global, economic and financial crises on the tourism industry in the OECS,” Dr. Nicholas said.
The ministers requested the Secretariat to continue its work in collaboration with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank in assessing the economic and financial crisis on the tourism sector.
An updated report on the impact of the crisis is slated to be presented and discussed at a subsequent videoconference meeting ahead of the next OECS Authority meeting to be held in Anguilla in November.