Barbados to host major tourism summit
Barbados is preparing to make history when it becomes the first English-speaking Caribbean country in 25 years to host a major tourism summit next month.
The 22nd Organisation of American States’ Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High Level Authorities of Tourism will be held from September 3 to 4, at the Hilton Barbados Resort, where over 200 delegates from 34 Latin American countries will gather to focus on tourism competitiveness.
Speaking during a press conference to announce the hosting of the congress, Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner, said Barbados welcomed the upcoming event which had the immediate benefit of foreign exchange.
“I am talking about not only high level ministers but authorities as well and observers who will come to gain information from this conference. The long term benefits, of course, will be the sharing of ideas; ideas which we probably would have to travel to go to research or ideas we may never even have heard,” she said.
The Permanent Secretary also noted that the event would be timely for the continued improvement of the island’s tourism sector as the country needed all the help and expertise being offered.
“At this conference, we are looking to agree on the adoption of a Tourism Service Excellence Strategy which is underpinned by the development, the adoption and the implementation of standards throughout the region,” Sandiford-Garner said.
“And research has shown that our particular industry, at 60 years old, is a mature one. Barbados’ tourism product life cycle is now at a mature stage so this is timely for us, in that this type of information is vitally needed if we want to continue to be a dynamic destination.”
Country Representative of the OAS, Francis McBarnette, said the Congress is expected to address issues such as transportation, sustainability, the heritage product and crime.
He added that renewed efforts would be placed on tourism as a top priority in the hemisphere, since “the industry is one of those issues that is cross cutting”.
“Tourism is not about hotels alone, it is about cultural heritage, patrimony, built heritage, and I think the Congress allows all these issues to come to the fore,” he said.
The Congress has as its theme: Tourism Competitiveness: An Essential Element of Sustainability, and will discuss the following sub-themes during the plenaries: Measuring Competitiveness: Price versus Non-Price Factors in Tourism; Importance of Tourism InfrastructureTourism and Inter-Sectoral LinkagesSustainable Destination Management.
The Congress serves as a platform for the exchange of experiences and best practices to strengthen communication between government agencies and the private sector and to consider technical cooperation proposals to support member states in their effort to develop the tourism sector.