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OECS closer to common tourism policy

Programme Officer at the OECS Secretariat, Dr. Lorraine Nicholas, says tourism officials are reviewing a final draft of the document ahead of the two-day meeting which begins on Tuesday.

“(They) will be reviewing the draft Policy with a view to ensuring that it is in sync with their vision and aspirations for tourism development in the OECS region,” she explained.

The aim is to secure agreement among OECS Member States on priorities and actions for the final policy.

Next week’s meeting follows an initial consultation held in St. Lucia 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.

Some of the broad focus areas highlighted by the first workshop included: transportation; tourism awareness; product development; customs and immigration procedures; environmental and cultural sustainability and sustainable financing. The March meeting also identified actions to address each of the policy focus area.

Dr. Nicholas said consultants did considerable work in putting together the draft of the policy.

Immediately following the first workshop in St. Lucia, they visited all nine OECS Member States to discuss with stakeholders key issues affecting the development of tourism and to get their buy-in to the emerging Common Tourism Policy.

The consultants also presented initial findings and observations to the OECS Council of Tourism Ministers at their 10th meeting held in St. Kitts in April. At that meeting, OECS Tourism Ministers endorsed the priority areas identified for inclusion in the policy, emphasizing the need for immigration and border control in the OECS to be addressed as priority issues in the Policy.

The pending Common Tourism Policy is within the context of the OECS Economic Union as a single financial and economic space.

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