This country???s Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy, said he was pleased that the Organization of American States (OAS) chose Barbados as the venue for the recently concluded OAS 22nd Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-Level Authorities of Tourism.

He made this observation during a press conference in which the outgoing OAS Deputy Secretary General, Albert Ramdin, spoke about OAS relations with Barbados and the region and his achievements before demitting office in a few months.

The Minister continued: ???Barbados is very committed to the agenda of the OAS and the efforts to have the hemisphere work as a region. The English-speaking Caribbean has tended to not necessarily have the strongest voice in many of these hemispheric organisations. And, therefore I think that it is important for the English-speaking Caribbean to let its voice be heard.???

He said the conference, which examined tourism competitiveness and also zeroed in on non-price factors, was an important talking point among delegates.

???I also made the point during my opening remarks that there is a shared business advantage of meeting together. My much criticized foray into the Brazilian market is something that everybody is trying to do. But, if we are going to see value beyond our traditional North American source markets, we have to get closer to our Latin American counterparts. The ideal forum to [achieve this] is the OAS so, I don???t think that I need to belabour the importance about a forum like this,??? Mr. Sealy underlined.

Meanwhile Ambassador Ramdin described the Congress as an important meeting that not only showcased Barbados??? strides in tourism development to the delegates attending, but one which served as an opportunity to ???talk about concrete ways to strengthen the competitiveness of the tourism industry???.

???We have seen the negative impact if things go wrong in the world???if there is decline in economic growth in some countries and how this impacts tourism. So I think this meeting [provides the opportunity] to reflect on those developments and to develop very concrete ways of addressing those issues. So, congratulations to Barbados and to Minister Sealy,??? he added.

The two-day forum, which attracted delegates from 25 OAS territories, was held from September 3-4 at Hilton Barbados.

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