Above: Dominica (CJ Photo)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
It’s a romantic notion of Caribbean travel — arrive in one destination, then travel to another two or three islands by sea or small plane.
And the OECS regional subgrouping wants to make island-hopping easier for travelers in the Caribbean.
The OECS, whose integration efforts have been finding praise within the wider region, is looking to develop a common tourism policy, and that means in part creating a regional identity for OECS tourism, according to Rodinald Soomer, head of the economic development policy unit at the OECS.
The plan is to collaborate with the region’s immigration outfits to help facilitate both interregional tourism — that is, travel between the islands by OECS nationals, and island-hopping for international tourists.
The plan for the latter in particular is to eliminate multiple border checkpoints for “seamless travel.”
It’s about grouping the islands together and encouraging island hopping — come to the OECS, and see Antigua, St Kitts and Montserrat, for example.
So can the OECS develop its own tourism identity within the larger Caribbean?
“Ultimately what we would like to see is for an OECS brand to be developed, “ Soomer said this week. “The ministers have gone through that idea, but it was at a time when everyone was buying into the wider Caribbean brand. A decision was taken that this was not the right time for us to go for an OECS brand. we needed to build a reputation in the marketplace of presenting ourselves as a unit.”
The aim, he said, is to end the idea of tourism competition in the region, and “recognize the rivalry as being out of the Caribbean.”