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Tourism Authority holds planning meetings after two-year hiatus

Tourism Authority holds planning meetings after two-year hiatus

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After a two-year hiatus, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority held its Annual Planning Meetings last week.{{more}}

The meetings, which ran from September 8 to 12, brought together the Authority’s Board of Directors, local and overseas staff, Public Relations and Advertising Agencies, the Ministry of Tourism, as well as the SVG Hotel and Tourism Association and Invest SVG, to chart the way forward for the sector.

At the commencement of the planning meetings on Tuesday, September 9, chairperson of the Board of Directors Bianca Porter underscored the need for the meetings, stating that “planning is a critical component of operating any establishment or business;” she further stated that it was her hope that the meetings will “chart the way forward in an innovative and pragmatic manner, being ever mindful of the extremely challenging times with which we are faced.”

Porter also stated that “the ground breaking of the largest capital project in our country’s history six years ago was perhaps the first piece of evidence which clued us in to the fact that marketing our destination would forever be changed, as it would have to include placing the Argyle international airport on the world stage.”

The chairperson of the Board challenged the meeting to “forge forward into this exciting phase, with our country being portrayed as no less than a first class destination and one which any airline or hotel company would be proud to be associated with.”

In his remarks, Minister of Tourism Cecil McKie noted that there is a “much better appreciation of the tourism product, a much better understanding of the value and potential of the product and a greater awareness of where we were then, where we are now and how we stack up against destinations regionally and internationally.”

He posed the question “how do we now further convert this into giving St Vincent and the Grenadines that competitive advantage in the tourism market place having been armed with this vital information?”

The Minister elaborated on the areas that can ensure the destination advances in its tourism thrust. Among the areas highlighted were the development a plan that should “necessitate the third revolution after education and health,” looking beyond traditional source markets, attracting a name brand hotel and upgrading and refreshing current and new tourism sites. The Minister also cited the festivals, community tourism, sports tourism and marine tourism, as well as the role of the diaspora, Invest SVG and the Chamber of Commerce, as critical to taking the destination to higher level.

He concluded by challenging the staff and agencies to “work even harder, limited resources or not, to get our numbers up to even above the regional mark.” The Minister reiterated his excitement about the future of the country’s tourism sector, noting that the necessary tools, markings and signs just need to be converted into even better results.

The week’s agenda also included a staff meeting on Monday, September 8, to address operational issues in the Head Office and Overseas Offices, a visit to the Argyle international airport on Thursday and visits to the Tamarind Beach Hotel and newly developed Pink Sands Resort in Canouan on Friday.

The St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA) is the national agency entrusted with the responsibility of promoting the country as a tourist destination, developing standards and regulating the quality of the local tourism service providers. The SVGTA is also required by law under the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority Act No. 39 of 2007 to assist in the development of the varied tourism products on offer. The SVG Tourism Authority which began operations on January 2nd 2009 is located on the 2nd floor of the NIS building. The Authority also has offices in London, New York and Toronto, as well as Information Desks at the Grantley Adams Airport in Barbados, ET Joshua Airport, Arnos Vale, and the Cruise Ship Terminal, Kingstown. The staff complement currently stands at 30.

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