CASTRIES, St Lucia, CMC ? Tourism ministers from the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) say they will support efforts to merge resources aimed at developing the sub region?s tourism products.
Tourism Programme Officer at the OECS Secretariat?s Economic Affairs Division, Dr. Lorraine Nicholas, said this was among issues discussed at a recent videoconference organised by the St. Lucia-based OECS Secretariat.
She said the ministers agreed that emphasis would be placed on joint product development in keeping with a decision by OECS countries to move towards the establishment of an Economic Union.
?Regional marketing was one of the main items on the meeting?s agenda. On this item 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?.
Nicholas said one of the key goals is to ?operationalise? the concept of presenting the OECS to the rest of the world as a single shared tourism space.
She said that towards this end, the ministers have as a priority, 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 emphasised by the 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 the wider Caribbean Community (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,? Nicholas said.
The meeting also requested the OECS Secretariat to continue its work in collaboration with the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) in assessing the economic and financial crisis on the vital tourism sector. An updated report on the impact of the crisis will be presented and discussed at a subsequent videoconference meeting ahead of the next OECS Authority meeting to be held in Anguilla in November.