OECS common tourism policy coming by October

A common tourism policy for the nine-nation Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is expected to come into effect on October 1, 2011.

St Kitts and Nevis Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Patricia Martin, was among Eastern Caribbean tourism officials who have agreed on this common OECS tourism policy development, according to a press release from the Communication Unit of the Office of the Prime Minister.

Making the announcement, Programme Officer at the OECS St Lucia-based Secretariat, Dr Lorraine Nicholas, said OECS member states are “pretty close” to unveiling their first common tourism policy.

CMC News reported that details were finalized at the just-concluded second meeting of private and public sector tourism stakeholders which looked at the draft tourism policy for the OECS.

“The consultants are refining the policy document to reflect decisions taken at the workshop. We expect to disseminate the revised policy to officials in our member states,” Dr Nicholas said.

“The member states have requested a deadline of September 14 for submission of their final comments and we expect to have a final common tourism policy document by October 1,” she disclosed.

The OECS Secretariat stated that the tourism consultation focused on tourism development within the OECS Economic Union and how it further enhances the life of the thousands of persons employed in the sector.

“I think I can say with some level of confidence that the OECS member states have produced a very comprehensive relevant and action-oriented tourism policy,” Nicholas added.

The OECS Secretariat said the just-concluded Antigua and Barbuda consultation was a success as tourism professionals from the private and public sector in the OECS and other stakeholders were able to agree on the key areas to be addressed in the OECS tourism policy.

In an address to delegates, Antigua’s Minister of Tourism, Civil Aviation & Culture, John Maginley, in advising delegates on the way forward for the region’s vital economic sector, called for greater involvement of the private sector in tourism development activities.

Maginley also urged participants to appreciate the value of yachting to the region’s tourism product.

The meeting identified the operations of the OECS’ single yachting space as a top priority under the policy.

Other key areas include transportation, harmonization of customs and immigration procedures, improvement in air access to the region; and standardization of human resource development initiatives across the region.

The meeting followed 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 said that having formulated the plan, funding has been identified under the 10th European Development Fund programme to implement the OECS Common Tourism Policy, the release concluded.

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