Tourism ministers from the OECS were in the Cayman Islands for the Caribbean Tourism Organisation Business Meetings. As Chair of the OECS Council of Ministers: Tourism, Hon. Denise Charles captialised on the opportunity to convene this special meeting to receive an update from the OECS Commissions on the decisions taken at the 7th Meeting of the OECS Council of Ministers: Tourism held in Dominica in July 2022.
Hon. Denise Charles said,
“In an effort to keep the important regional issues in focus, it is necessary that the OECS Ministers of Tourism meet as often as possible, this allows greater flexibility in our decision-making and collective response to critical matters impacting tourism in the OECS.”
OECS Director General, Dr. Didacus Jules, who addressed the start of the meeting virtually remarked
“Any opportunity that presents itself for the OECS Ministers of Tourism to meet, particularly within a face-to-face setting, is to our advantage. At this meeting the OECS was able to provide an update on a number of opportunities that have arisen in the tourism space.”
The meetings received updates on the OECS Commission’s ongoing work on the 11th EDF RIGHT Tourism Enhancement Programme, with interventions in Community Based Tourism; Historic/Heritage Tourism with support to National Trusts and similar institutions; and the OECS Niche Tourism Marketing packages and campaign. It was agreed that the Tourism Marketing Task Force that had been established at the July meeting, comprising Chief Executive Officers of the Tourism Authorities and Directors of Tourism, should provide input and oversight of the implementation of the OECS Niche Marketing project.
The meeting addressed the going concerns relating to intra-regional travel; received updates on the OECS Fast Ferry initiative and the facilitation of seamless travel within the OECS region; and provided recommendations on moving the initiative forward.
Ministers also committed to continuous and more frequent dialogue and increased sharing of information on national tourism policies, regulations, and legislation to encourage harmonized positions and redound to the collective benefit of the OECS region.
Ministers of Tourism in attendance were:
Chair OECS Council of Ministers: Tourism and Minister for Tourism, International Transport and Maritime Initiatives, Commonwealth of Dominica, Hon. Denise Charles
Minister for Tourism and Investment, Antigua & Barbuda, Hon. Charles Fernandez
Minister for Economic Development Planning, Tourism, ICT, Creative Economy, Agriculture and Lands, Fisheries and Cooperatives, Hon. Lennox Andrews
Minister for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information, Saint Lucia, Hon. Ernest Hilaire
Minister for Infrastructure and Tourism, Anguilla, Hon. Haydn Hughes
The following persons were also in attendance:
Director General of the OECS, Dr. Didacus Jules (virtual)
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism Antigua & Barbuda, Mr. Walter Christopher
Acting Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Tourism St. Kitts, Ms. Diannille Taylor-Williams (virtual)
Chief Executive Officer, Discover Dominica Authority, Mr. Colin Piper
Chief Executive Officer, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, Ms. Lorine Charles-St. Jules
Collectivite Territoriale de Martinique (virtual)
Chargé de coopération à l'OECO, Guadeloupe, Mr. Mendy Kilo (virtual)
OECS Interim Head of Economic Development, Mr. Kevin Hope
Senior Technical Specialist Tourism, Mrs. Maria Fowell