OECS looks to Mexico to further develop tourism sector

CASTRIES, St. Lucia Nov 26—The nine-member Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is collaborating with the government of Mexico to explore and develop Sustainable Strategic Tourism Master Plans (SSTMP) for the sub-region.

OECS Director General, Dr. Didacus Jules said the OECS has enjoyed strong relations with Mexico across a number of functional areas of cooperation and the potential now existed to deepen that commitment through the elevation of SSTMP’s as a key driver of economic growth in the OECS.

“The potential exists for a deeper diversification of the OECS tourism product and the SSTMP’s will be imperative in creating a sustainable framework to identify and then capitalise on these unique opportunities” said Jules.

Head of the Tourism Desk at the OECS Commission Dr. Lorraine Nicholas said that Mexico’s tourism industry has performed remarkably well in the past few years with the Spanish-speaking country welcoming a record of number of 32 million tourists last year, a 10 per cent increase over the 2014 figure.

“Revenue from the sector also grew by eight per cent which accounted for surplus of seven billion US dollars and the Ministry of Tourism in Mexico strongly attributes this impressive performance in the Tourism sector to effective planning” said Nicholas.

“Tourism master plans were developed by tourism professionals in Mexico for each of the main tourist destinations (cities) in Mexico and the development of the sector has been guided by these plans.

“The government of Mexico is now keenly interested in replicating the concept of one of Mexico’s major tourism product “los Pueblos Mágicos” – Magical Towns in the OECS.

“This programme was developed by the Ministry of Tourism to highlight the key tourism assets in select towns, particularly those towns that have preserved their cultural and historical resources” said Nicholas.

As part of the Mexico/OECS cooperation agreement, the Mexico has agreed to provide technical support to the OECS Member States to develop their respective SSTMP.

A Mexican delegation has provided providing an overview of the concept and methodology to develop SSTMPs as a tool for a participatory planning, which is intended to improve the performance of the tourism sector.

The plan is intended establish the guidelines for collaboration and coordination between the different agencies and entities, among the different stakeholders in the private and social sectors.

Amongst the methodology to develop the plan comprise secondary research involving the compilation of key documents that contain information relevant to the development of tourism,  field visits to undertake a situational diagnosis of the OECS tourism sector.

This project is expected to begin next month.