Amid a strong cultural heritage, the OECS has an array of historical and cultural assets that can be leveraged for the development of unique tourism experiences and promoted to discerning and affluent travelers. This is in keeping with the OECS tourism mandate to develop a sustainable tourism industry while improving the quality of life of its citizens. The RIGHT Tourism initiative aims at enhancing the product offering of the tourism sector across OECS Member States to make it more competitive. A major element of this tourism component is the support for the development of Heritage Tourism.
Senior Technical Specialist for Tourism at the OECS Commission, Maria Fowell, said
“Given the region’s heritage assets the OECS has identified Heritage Tourism as an important niche market to diversify and enhance the tourism product across the OECS; boost competitiveness and build resilience in the tourism sector while managing our historic/heritage authenticity and integrity.”
The purpose of the two-day engagement was to obtain the individual and collective input, guidance, and consensus of participants on all elements of the project to ensure that the outcomes and benefits to the National Trusts and similar Institutions are appropriate, relevant, implementable, and sustainable.
A Needs Assessment Survey was undertaken, and participants brainstormed on a collective SWOT analysis and idea generation for project proposals. The group also worked on an inventory of assets vested in the Trusts with potential for use as heritage tourism products. Participants benefitted from benchmarking information and a case study of the Antigua & Barbuda National Parks Authority, a self-financing institution, inclusive of a field trip to Nelson Dockyard National Park.
Mrs. Fowell, noted that though the agenda for the consultation was somewhat ambitious, the active participation and commitment of the National Trust and similar institutions were able to complete every item and gain useful information and key next steps.
“There was active participation. A positive outcome of this consultation was the establishment of an informal network of OECS National Trusts and similar institutions.”
Another consultation will be held with tourism stakeholders in July, which will precede a Validation Workshop of the full working group comprising representatives of National Trusts and Tourism.