3rd OECS MEETING FRUITFUL FOR MEMBERS STATES

Office de Tourisme
Par Office de Tourisme mai 4, 2016 17:13

3rd OECS MEETING FRUITFUL FOR MEMBERS STATES

Saint-Martin Tourism Office, Sandy Ground – Last week’s meeting of the OECS Ministers of Tourism under the theme, OECS Economic Union, Tourism, driving Growth and Development, was an intense one-day affair that saw agreement to move forward on several important point for regional tourism.

The OECS Air Service Agreement, the One Stop Security Arrangement for visitors traveling between countries and the establishment of an Eastern Caribbean Institute of Tourism were just a few of the issues dealt with at the meeting.  Ministers also concentrated on finding the best means to pool resources and come up with a regional approach to addressing the Zika virus and its implications for the region’s tourism sector.
The OECS Chair, Minister of Tourism, Economic Development, Investment and Energy, the Honorable Asot A. Michael of Antigua, in his opening remarks to the 18 delegates attending the meeting said that, “Creativity, innovation, and moving towards a harmonized platform characterized by joint tourism development and promotion efforts in the OECS, are instrumental if we are to truly maximize and diversify our tourism offerings…”
Commissioner of Tourism, Jeanne Rogers-Vanterpool, who was in attendance said that the meeting was very satisfactory especially in the no nonsense approach in which the Chairperson and the new Secretary General, Dr. Didacus Jules carried out the meeting. “The group was able to come to consensus on the decisions because the information on the work carried out was readily accessible.  In addition, the outstanding issues were spelled out very clearly for everyone. “

From the Tourism Commissioner’s standpoint there were several important issues covered in the meeting that were important for Saint-Martin.  Among them was the OECS Air Service Agreement that would allow air carriers domiciled in any OECS country to operate in the airspace of any other OCES member.  “This open sky agreement if we were party to it could open up a huge added airlift in terms of regional tourism for us.  This coupled with the One Stop Security Arrangement would facilitate not only tourism but business travel as well. The proposals to explore the possibility for lower inter-regional airfares through a lowering of government taxes also ties in with efforts to facilitate and ease travel within the OECS something that is good for the travel and the tourism industry of the region,” Rogers-Vanterpool said.  Also important for the Commissioner were the discussions that have been taking place between France and the OECS to facilitate multi-destination tourism and how Saint-Martin can benefit from and play a bigger role in this project.

The impact of the Zika virus and its implications for the region’s tourism sector was also an important discussion, especially, in terms of how the region is handling the communication on the issue and the efforts being recommended by PAHO and other regional health organizations on preventing the spread of the mosquito vector for the disease.  The Minister was able to report on the efforts here on Saint-Martin to clean-up car wrecks and other actions that have been taken by the ARS (Agence Régionale de Santé).  “The Zika virus,” the Commissioner noted, “could become one of our greatest public health and economic challenges in the future if we don’t react intelligently and decisively.  We have to get in front of this before it becomes an issue by removing the vector from our island and promoting protection and awareness campaigns.”

The delegates to the 3rd Meeting of the OECS Council of Ministers of Tourism agreed to 11 points during the meeting, among the other points were that the OECS should continue its joint promotion activities in the Tourism sector and that a catalogue of unique resources and products of the member states should be developed for promotional and marketing purposes.  Saint-Martin currently holds an observer status at the OECS.

Credit photo : Organisation of eastern caribbean states

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Office de Tourisme
Par Office de Tourisme mai 4, 2016 17:13
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