OECS Member States to implement Common Tourism Policy by October 1, 2011

(Thursday September 1, 2011 OECS Secretariat Castries St. Lucia) October first 2011 has been identified as the date for establishing a Common Tourism Policy for OECS Member States. That is among the major successful outcomes of the second meeting of private and public sector tourism stakeholders which looked at the draft tourism policy for the OECS.

OECS tourism officials at second meeting on Common Policy

Programme Officer at the OECS Secretariat Dr. Lorraine Nicholas says OECS Member States are “pretty close” towards unveiling their first Common Tourism Policy.

The OECS Secretariat adds that the focus on tourism development within the OECS Economic Union and how it further enhances the life of the sector’s thousands of employees as well as the region’s economies was high on the agenda of OECS Member States at the recent meeting of private and public sector tourism stakeholders.

The OECS Secretariat says the meeting in Antigua and Barbuda from August 16th to 17th was a success as tourism professionals from the private and public sector in the OECS and other stakeholders agreed on the key areas to be addressed in the OECS Tourism Policy. Antigua’s Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation & Culture, the Hon. John Maginley, advised the delegates on the way forward for the region’s vital economic sector and called for greater involvement of the private sector in tourism development activities. He said it is the private and not the public sector that generates most of the revenue from tourism.

Yachting was a major agenda item at the recent meeting towards a common OECS tourism policy

Minister Maginley also urged participants to appreciate of the value of yachting to the region’s tourism product. The meeting identified the operationalisation of the OECS’ single yachting space as a top priority under the Policy area entitled: Product Development. Other key areas include: Harmonisation of customs & immigration procedures, including the universal implementation of eSeaClear throughout OECS; improvement in air access to the region; standardization of human resource development initiatives across the region; transportation; and enhancement of tourism awareness throughout the region to provide empirical evidence of the economic impact of tourism. Improved research and statistics as well as attracting greater investment to the region were also flagged as major policy measures.

The recent meeting follows an initial consultation held in March 2011, where tourism professionals from the region’s private and public sectors identified and prioritized key areas on which the Policy should focus. Nicholas believes the extensive discussions will soon result in the formulation of a comprehensive, relevant and action-oriented Tourism Policy for the OECS.

Looking ahead, Nicholas says having formulated the plan, funding has been identified under the 10th EDF programme to implement the OECS Common Tourism Policy.

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