We Mix Business with Pleasure.

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.

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