Above: St Eustatius (CJ Photo)
By Alexander Britell
ST EUSTATIUS — Particularly for small islands, tourism development needs to begin in the community.
That’s the overarching theme of the third annual Statia Sustainable Conference & Exhibition, which began on Thursday here in Oranjestad on the Dutch Caribbean island.
This year’s conference, which covers “tourism and development in the community,” includes a host of speakers from around the Caribbean region, led by keynote speaker Earlston McPhee, who is responsible for sustainable tourism development at the Ministry of Tourism in the Bahamas.
McPhee kicked things off Thursday morning with an impassioned plea to the Caribbean to make the region’s tourism sector more competitive in the global arena.
St Eustatius, or “Statia,” as it is known, has been on a stated push to develop its “community tourism product,” according to Commissioner of Tourism Carlyle Tearr, looking to “mobilize our community to take part in broadening the scope of offerings in the industry.”
“The end goal,” he says, “is to ensure that our local entrepreneurs, our artists, our farmers, our homeowners, our entire community, develop and earn their fair share from the socioeconomic empowerment that comes from tourism.”
The conference concludes on Friday.