CASTRIES, St Lucia, Wednesday March 13, 2013 – The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) says it is moving ahead with plans to develop the yachting sector in the sub-region.
A statement issued by the St Lucia-based OECS Secretariat on Monday said that a meeting was held late last month in the British Virgin Islands to advance plans for the development of an action plan for the sector.
The meeting was supported by the European Union under the 10th European Union Development (EDF) Economic Integration and Trade of the OECS region project.
Programme Officer at the OECS Secretariat Dr Loraine Nicholas said the overall objective of developing the action plan is to create an enabling environment that will contribute to optimizing the economic benefits derived from yachting as a key niche in the region’s tourism industry.
“The yachting sector in the OECS has been identified as offering an ideal opportunity to mobilize the shared benefits of the economic union and is one of the clearest and most obvious avenues to develop the OECS as a single economic space.
“In light of the archipelagic configuration of the OECS region, comprising nine small islands in close proximity to each other, and linked by arguably some of the best sailing waters in the world, yachting is a prime niche sector in tourism that can be developed and promoted jointly in the OECS.
“The product offering of ‘many islands, one sea’, with the opportunity to sail between different islands, furnishes considerable appeal to the yachting community and positions the OECS region at a distinct comparative advantage,” she added.
The OECS Secretariat said that in addition, the importance of the yachting sector in expanding and stimulating economic activity in other sectors including taxi service, boat repairs, marine mechanics, food provisioning, insurance and security was also highlighted at the meeting.
It added that notwithstanding the obvious potential for the regional development of the yachting niche tourism product, the meeting identified some critical actions that need to be implemented to effectively unlock the sector’s untapped potential.
It said they include develop human resources; establish satellite accounts with yachting as a separate account as well as develop and strategically schedule more sailing events to extend the yachting season.
The meeting also felt there is need to develop an OECS marine awareness guide and strengthen the legislative framework for management of the yachting sector.
The OECS groups the islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Montserrat, St Kitts-Nevis, Anguilla and the British Virgin Islands.