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OECS Tourism Ministers Meet in Dominica

Above: Dominica (CJ Photo)
By the Caribbean Journal staff

Data reveals that the Eastern Caribbean is increasingly struggling to compete with other emerging tourism destinations in the world.

That was the finding of Virginia Paul, head of Trade Policy Unit/Officer in Charge of the Economic Affairs Division in the OECS Secretariat, who was speaking at the 12th OECS Tourism Ministers meeting in Dominica on Thursday.

She pointed to the continued role of tourism as a fundamental driver of the sub-regional economy, but warned of trends indicating that the OECS was “becoming increasingly less competitive amidst stiffening competition, particularly from emerging destinations from other regions in the world and consequently losing its already undersized share of the Global Tourism Market.”

In 2000, the countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union had a .132 percent share of the global tourism market. In 2005, that fell to .131 percent; in 2010, that declined to .101 and last year it reached a record low of .092 percent.

“These facts and figures substantiate the point that while we depend heavily on tourism sector as the most significant in our economies, the Global Tourism Sector does not in a similar vein depend critically on us for its prosperity and not by any measure regard our region as a significant, much less the most significant region,” Paul said.

She asked assembled ministers to consider what makes the region special and how to adopt strategies making it more competitive.

“Does World Tourism need the OECS?  Put differently, if the OECS were to be extracted from the Global Tourism arena, what would be the implications?” she asked. “Would we be missed? Why would we be missed? What makes us so special? What makes us so different?”

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