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Old 26-10-2006, 11:06   #1
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From the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS)

OECS Tourism Ministers Take Wide-ranging Decisions at Puerto Rico Meeting

The fourth Meeting of the OECS Council of Tourism Ministers ended in Puerto Rico, Friday October 6th with several decisions geared towards enhancing joint marketing, achieving greater benefits from cruise tourism, improving security for the yachting sector and stepping up the collection and use of Tourism statistics in the OECS.
OECS Council of Tourism Ministers On the issue of joint marketing, the Ministers agreed that the OECS and the Puerto Rico Tourism Company will convene a meeting of their respective Tourism Directors, during the upcoming World Travel Market in London, to analyse the behaviour of various international source markets and identify those offering the best potential for growth of stay-over business to the Eastern Caribbean. The Ministers also accepted a proposal which would see their Directors of Tourism, their representatives or agents in the German market and the German Chapter of the Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) meeting at the ITB in March next year to consult and agree on a programme of joint marketing activities in Germany.

The two-day meeting decided to establish an OECS Working Group on Cruise Tourism whose focus will be primary research and secondary data and information gathering on best practices in expanding the economic and social benefits of cruise tourism to the economies of the OECS and the Eastern Caribbean as a whole. The Ministers agreed that Puerto Rico is an indispensable partner for the OECS in the quest for enhancing the growth and benefits of cruise tourism and, and that in recognition of this, a partnership will be established with the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and other relevant Puerto Rican agencies and authorities, facilitated by the recently opened OECS Office in Puerto Rico, with Consular attributes. They also noted the urgent need to develop a sub-regional, evidence-based approach to effectively advance partnerships-based cruise tourism policy formulation and strategic action planning.

The meeting discussed the current security concerns in the yachting sector and the likely negative impact of adverse publicity and agreed that it was important to develop and implement a Crisis Communications Plan, involving all stakeholders, to ensure effective damage control and mitigate any negative impact of criminal activity on the performance of yachting arrivals and the image of OECS destinations. The Ministers accepted a recommendation for a 24 hour VHF Safety and Security net in each Member State. They mandated the OECS Secretariat to convene a meeting between law enforcement agencies and yachting industry representatives to agree on a collaborative approach to addressing safety concerns in the sector.

The Ministers accepted an offer from Puerto Rico to assist the Eastern Caribbean region in developing a comprehensive tourism database, drawing especially on Puerto Ricos experience with collection of data on Average Daily Rates at hotels. They noted the current collaboration by the OECS Secretariat and the Regional Council of Martinique aimed at improving the design and expanding the content of the OECS Tourism Statistical system to include querying and forecasting options, particularly with respect to data on the yachting sector, which is currently not captured by the CTO.

As part of their meeting, the Tourism Ministers traveled to Hato Rey, San Juan on Friday for the opening ceremony of the first OECS Office in Puerto Rico. The Office, provided by the Puerto Rican government, will be used as a base for stimulating tourism, trade and investment promotion. The Secretary of State for Puerto Rico welcomed the opening of the new office as a platform for creating opportunities for joint business collaboration between the OECS and Puerto Rico. OECS Director General Dr. Len Ishmael said it can be held up as a shining example of regionalism to the rest of the world.
Gord May
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