By Dana Niland
The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is meeting this week to discuss methods of remaining competitive in the global tourism industry.
This year’s theme of “OECS Economic Union: Pushing the Tourism Envelope” will engage tourism ministers, representatives from the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank, the Caribbean Tourism Organization, and the hotel and tourism industry in the evaluation of revitalizing the region’s tourism sector, as well as identifying opportunities for collaboration.
“We can ill afford not to devise innovative strategies to increase our share of the international tourism pie, which by all accounts is diminishing due primarily to stiffening competition by new and emerging destinations,” said Dr Didadus Jules, Director General of the OECS commission.
The delegates are exploring issues such as ease of travel throughout the region, the World Bank Tourism Competitiveness Project, and opportunities for collaboration between the OECS and Martinique and Cuba.
According to Jules, some of the fastest-growing tourism destinations are areas which were not known for leisure travel just 20 years ago, such as Dubai.
Jules emphasized that, in order to compete, the OECS must develop strategies for “reviewing, juxtaposing, and reconfiguring” the products they offer for export.
“Tourism isn’t just about bringing visitors to our island, but more about getting those visitors to spend much needed foreign exchange in our islands to improve our living standards,” he said.