BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today highlighted the fundamental contributions of the tourism industry to the economy of the region in a message sent to the 22nd Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High Authorities of Tourism, which takes place today and tomorrow in Bridgetown, Barbados.
Secretary General Insulza said that for many OAS Member States, tourism is the main source of foreign currency. In this regard, he stressed that “in our region, tourism amounts to almost 10 per cent of total employment and 8.5 per cent of the gross domestic product.” He also mentioned the connection between tourism and other sectors such as culture, transport, agriculture and construction, “which in turn provide a livelihood for many families”.
The head of the OAS highlighted that the main theme for the 22nd Inter American Congress is “Tourism Competitiveness: An Essential Component of Sustainability”, a topic which underscores “the notion that tourism is not merely an economic activity that generates employment and foreign currency, but one that is also a catalyst for achieving other strategic objectives while taking into account current and future economic, social and environmental impacts”.
Other important issues to be addressed in the Congress are: measuring competitiveness; price versus non-price factors in tourism; the importance of infrastructures in tourism; tourism and inter-sectorial linkages; and management of sustainable destinations.
Secretary General Insulza noted that the meeting, which convenes Ministers and High Authorities throughout the region, is an important forum for dialogue, as well as for the promotion and exchange of experiences and best practices, in order to encourage greater cooperation among countries. “This meeting continues the dialogue started in San Salvador in 2011, followed up in Quito in 2012 and San Pedro Sula last year for which the common thread has been that of tourism sustainability,” he said.
Also, the OAS Secretary General recalled that it is the first time in nearly a quarter century that this important meeting is being held in the Caribbean, and he thanked the Barbadian authorities – Prime Minister Freundel Stuart Q.C, M.P. and Richard Sealy M.P., Minister of Tourism and International Transport, for their leadership in organizing and hosting this very important gathering.
“I would like to congratulate the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport of Barbados for proposing this theme, as well as a Declaration which will request member states to ensure that competitiveness and sustainability remain the fundamental principles that drive the development of tourism in the Americas, to support the progress of indicators of competitiveness and sustainability, to improve infrastructure and support cross-cutting policies that encourage sustainable management of destinations”, he said.
“I find no better place to host this congress than the beautiful island of Barbados, an iconic worldwide tourism destination which provides the perfect setting to inspire tourism ministers, private sector officials, academics and other experts to further deepen their dialogue and cooperation”, added Secretary General Insulza.