SOTIC Opens In The Islands Of The Bahamas
Nassau, Bahamas: In his keynote address to the opening ceremony of the State of Tourism Industry Conference (SOTIC) yesterday, October 2, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis urged delegates to turn the Caribbean into a global tourism centre. The region’s premier tourism conference is being held this week, October 1-5, at Atlantis Paradise Island.
SOTIC is a meeting of the minds that brings together over 300 delegates from around the Caribbean — tourism ministers, directors, executives, strategic partners, tourism business executives and everyone involved directly or indirectly in tourism. The overall aim of the conference is to formulate winning strategies to market the region globally.
The prime minister said one of the ways to increase tourism in the region is to provide more opportunities for entrepreneurship, “One of our core objectives must be to help create greater economic benefits from tourism for micro-small and medium sized businesses. This means greater diversification across various tourism platforms as well as greater linkages with economic sectors.”
“The training and education of a new generation of entrepreneurs is vital in helping our citizens and economies to garner greater economic benefits from tourism.”
The prime minister said toward this end, the Government Of The Bahamas launched a Small Business Development Center in partnership with the University of The Bahamas and The Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation.
“If we can give birth to a generation of new entrepreneurs, we can move Caribbean tourism to greater heights and in many new directions. One of these new directions is a greater global environment in tourism by the people of the Caribbean,” he said.
Dr. Minnis added that the region must also be focused on attracting tourism-related businesses outside of the region.
“For far too long, we have focused our attention in tourism development on local, personal services, which though currently critically important, is not the totality of talent required for the development of this economic sector into an economic powerhouse,” he said.
The Prime Minister noted that tourism continues to evolve at a rapid pace and that the region must keep up.
“We must keep pace with such innovation. But we must also be the drivers of global innovation. The world must increasingly ask: “ So, what are they doing in the Caribbean?” There has been an upsurge in visitor arrivals for various destinations in our region. This is good and necessary. Yet, in considering the state of tourism in the Caribbean, the answer is clear: It is good, but it can even be better,” Dr. Minnis said.
“Even as we celebrate our accomplishments, I invite you this week to explore new and perhaps groundbreaking dimensions for our region.”
Meanwhile, Minister of Tourism and Aviation Dionisio D’Aguilar said this is exactly the intention of SOTIC. “This is an incredible event to discuss all of the challenges, issues and accomplishments,” he said.
“A number of nations have been emerging from the ravages of the hurricanes from last year while others have been doing exceptionally well. We have to rediscover what nations are offering and what is causing people to come to their countries. It is not just sun, sand and sea. It is a connection with people and feeding the soul by getting into our cultures and it is wonderful that we can all come together and trade ideas.”
Secretary General of Caribbean Tourism Organization Hugh Riley said he is grateful that The Islands Of The Bahamas agreed to host the event.
“What I am hoping to achieve at the end of the conference is exactly what we have when we started – the passion and energy. It has been a terrific and spectacular opening ceremony. We want to thank the Prime Minister and the people of The Islands Of The Bahamas for the warm welcome we received,” he said.
The theme of the conference is Rejuvenate, Recreate, Reconnect. New Directions for Caribbean Tourism.