Jeanne ROGERS-VANTERPOOL speaks of regional integration at the 2014 UNWTO conference in the Bahamas

Building partnerships amongst member countries is probably the best win-win scenario. It can be a vehicle for the creation of greater power in the market and at the same time can generate new business opportunities and jobs… More importantly, these types of partnerships allow us to not only pool our resources but also offers the opportunity for us to diversify and recreate our tourism offerings, not by creating more of the same but by creating an added value by showcasing our uniqueness as part of a whole …President of the Office of Tourism of Saint-Martin, Jeanne Rogers-Vanterpool told some 600 delegates at the end of her presentation at the UNWTO conference in the Bahamas.

OMCThe Tourism Office President, who was speaking during a panel discussion on “Regional Integration: Building partnerships to compete globally.” told delegates that given the predictions that emerging markets would hold 57% of the 1.8 billion international tourism arrival market by 2030, the Caribbean needed to concern itself with how best it could recreate its image and offerings so as to improve its share of the tourism market over the coming years. “It is evident that we cannot continue to do business in the same manner as we have previously. More and more “warm weather” destinations will be competing against us in our target markets. So, while we try to resolve the more complex issues of regional integration, I would like to submit the idea, that the way forward in the short and medium term might be in practical alliances, where resources and know-how can be shared in order to attain specific objectives.

Vanterpool said that the islands had to create partnerships between themselves, the airlines and other industry partners in order to generate new interest in their destinations by highlighting and combining what was unique to each in a manner that would create a new and improved package that could be offered to the potential visitor.

During her presentation she outlined several initiatives that had been taken by the Saint-Martin Tourism Office in collaboration with surrounding islands and other partners to attract new business to the area. Vanterpool told her listeners that “Practical Alliances” between partners was one of the best ways to improve the competitiveness of the small islands in the market. The alliances, she said, allowed the destinations to combine marketing dollars, know-how and other resources to attract new business and explore niche markets that would be difficult to attract as an individual island.

The United Nation World Tourism Organization (UNTWO) Conference 2014 under the theme “Tourism as a Key Sector for Development in Island States” was held February 19th and 20th in the Bahamas. Conference sessions addressed a range of topics that were relevant to small island destinations, including, issues such as competitiveness, sustainability perspectives, regional integration, risk management and travel facilitation.

Mrs. Rogers-Vanterpool participated on the panel alongside others members including Maryse Robert, Director of the Department of Economic Affairs of the OAS, Donald Charles, Director General Antigua and Barbuda Development Bank, as well as, representatives of the ACS and CARICOM.

OMC 1One of the major occurrences at the conference was the signing of a MOU between the UNWTO and CTO which is designed to strengthen collaboration between the two organizations in order to promote tourism development in the Caribbean. A press statement coming out of the conference indicated just how important the signature of the MOU was for the both organizations and the Caribbean’s tourism sector. ‘ The MOU aims to enhance the cooperation between UNWTO and CTO in areas such as the preparation of regional strategies and action plans for the development of sustainable tourism, the promotion of tourism investment, market intelligence and capacity building.

In signing the MOU with CTO’s Secretary General, Hugh Riley, the UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai, stated that “We are very pleased to reinforce our collaboration with CTO, who is already an active and highly respected UNWTO Affiliate Member. This partnership enables our two organizations to work alongside on matters that will further advance sustainable development in the Caribbean and increase the competitiveness and resilience of the sector in the region.

As the organization responsible for leading sustainable tourism development in the Caribbean, the CTO is constantly seeking new ways to identify how our region’s economy and local communities in particular can gain the maximum advantage from tourism. Our collaboration with the UNWTO allows us to take this discussion to the global stage and to access international training, knowledge and resources for our members”, said the CTO Secretary General, Hugh Riley.

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