The Eleventh meeting of the OECS Council of Tourism Ministers focuses on implementing the OECS Common Tourism Policy
OECS Secretariat, Friday, May 3rd 2013 — High level officials from across the OECS converged on Anguilla on April 25th 2013 for the 11th Meeting of the OECS Council of Tourism Ministers.
The meeting was convened under the theme: ‘OECS Economic Union: Implementing the Common Tourism Policy’.
Programme Officer at the OECS Secretariat Dr. Lorraine Nicholas says the Secretariat, with technical assistance from the Commonwealth Secretariat, developed a Common Tourism Policy for the OECS, which was endorsed by OECS Ministers for Tourism in 2012. This was in fulfillment of the obligations articulated in the Revised Treaty of Basseterre Establishing the OECS Economic Union, which mandates OECS Member States to work towards the progressive harmonisation of Tourism policies; and to ultimately develop a Common Policy for Tourism.
The OECS Secretariat is currently actively engaged in assisting OECS Member States in implementing the Common Policy with funding support from the European Commission via its 10th EDF programme. Some of the priority issues being addressed are intra-regional travel facilitation, joint product development and marketing, training and human resource development, research and statistics, and inter-sectoral linkages.
Nicholas adds that this meeting focused primarily on updating the ministers on the work being undertaken by the Secretariat: “At the Tourism Ministers meeting convened in Anguilla, the OECS Secretariat’s Tourism Desk apprised Tourism Ministers of work undertaken and planned in areas including: facilitation of ease of travel within the OECS region; unlocking the untapped potential of the yachting sector to expand economic benefits from Tourism; and mainstreaming sustainable tourism practices in the OECS.”
The OECS Council of Tourism Ministers expressed keen support and appreciation for the work undertaken by the Secretariat and agreed to the following:
- Establish a ministerial sub-committee comprising Antigua, St. Kitts and Grenada, to examine and advise on approaches to negotiations with airlines;
- Harmonise Customs and Immigration procedures to facilitate ease of travel;
- Harmonise visa policies and develop a more liberal approach to granting of tourist visas to stimulate growth in the tourism sector; and
- Joint development and promotion of yachting in the OECS as a key product niche.
The 11th Meeting of the OECS Council of Tourism Ministers was held at the Paradise Cove Hotel in Anguilla. The Council of Tourism Ministers meets face-to-face once every year, with additional meetings held via video conference when the need arises.
Dominica has agreed to host the next meeting of the OECS Council of Tourism Ministers in April, 2014.