OECS issues joint Communique at conclusion of Virtual Conference to observe World Tourism Day 2021
AS THE CARIBBEAN strives to emerge from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Caribbean tourism, it is critical that regional tourism stakeholders, related businesses, academia and development partners work together to further deliberate on current and pressing issues facing the growth of Caribbean tourism.
Moreover, it is important that these deliberations result in innovative and creative solutions, committed actions and tangible results that would aid in the tourism sector recovery and resilience-building efforts.
This virtual conference was envisioned to commemorate World Tourism Day 2021[observed annually on September 27] through a collaborative approach among Caribbean Tourism leaders and Regional and International Development Partners, thus demonstrating a major commitment to the sustainability and inclusive growth of tourism in the Caribbean, in recognition of the impact and value of the sector to the social and economic development of the Region.
Expanding upon this year’s World Tourism Day theme established by the United Nations World Tourism Organization, ‘Tourism for Inclusive Growth’, the conference titled “The Future of Caribbean Tourism- Redefining the 3 S’s”, sought to examine the challenges, opportunities and best practices for tourism resilience and recovery.
The 3 S’s ‘Social Inclusion, Sustainability, and Smart Destinations and Businesses’ have been identified as three key priorities, which are integral to the region’s recovery strategies and were central to the conference deliberations.
The collaborating agencies, having organized and participated in this gathering and envisioning the most desirable evolution of tourism across the regional landscape, reiterate our support for the advancement of Caribbean tourism, noting the sector’s role in contributing to the wider regional development agenda as follows: Partnerships – We recognize the value of collaboration and inclusion and echo the sentiments of the UN Sustainable Development Goal #17 which states that a successful development agenda requires inclusive partnerships at the global, regional, national and local levels-built upon principles and values, and upon shared goals placing people and the planet at the centre.
Advocacy – We understand that for regional tourism to be socially inclusive, we must continue to engage in relevant research, meaningful discussions, and actions that would continually strengthen the objective of ‘leaving no one behind’ and provide a fair chance to the next generation to benefit from sustainable Caribbean tourism development.
Resilience – We are aware of the region’s vulnerabilities to the impacts of climate change, natural and anthropogenic hazards, and other global events, which have a significant impact on the region’s small open economies. Effective protocols for Disaster Risk Management (Mitigation, Preparedness, Response and Recovery) are pivotal pillars for the viability and long-term growth of tourism; and should incorporate climate adaptation strategies, business continuity planning, and standards and guidelines for effective health and safety management. Local Empowerment – We commend efforts to ensure that people in situations of vulnerability, including women, the youth, differently-abled persons, rural, indigenous and marginalized communities are meaningfully included in the tourism economy. We encourage the inclusion of all relevant stakeholders in tourism policy, planning and development activities.
Human Capital Development – We reiterate the importance of education and training in contributing to a highly-skilled tourism work force and by extension the competitiveness of the regional tourism sector. We continue to support and advocate for academic, technical, vocational programs and capacity-building initiatives, to further enhance the skills and competencies of the region’s human resources.
Diversification – We endorse the principles and ethos of the Orange, Blue and Green Economies, which present untapped new opportunities to improve the inclusivity, profitability and sustainability of Caribbean tourism.
Technological Innovation – We note the role of technology to optimise business opportunities and efficiency, increase market access, and enhance the inter-connectivity of Caribbean Tourism for residents and visitors alike. We encourage tourism stakeholders to increase technology adoption in the systems and processes for destination marketing, visitor engagement, service delivery and in the tourism product experience across the value chain.
Knowledge and Information Sharing – We recognize the wealth of information and resources which exists within our industry; globally, regionally and locally, and with our various stakeholder organizations and institutions. We recognize and support where possible the sharing of data, research, reports and best practices which advance Social Inclusion, Sustainability, and Smart Destinations and Businesses.