With tourism being the main income earner in almost 50 per cent of the Organization of American States??? (OAS) member states, this country???s Minister of Tourism and International Transport, Richard Sealy, said Barbados is the ideal destination for that agency???s upcoming tourism congress.

He made this observation recently during the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Barbados and the OAS for general secretariat services for the 22nd Inter-American Congress of Ministers and High-Level Authorities of Tourism, at OAS headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The conference, themed: Tourism Competitiveness: An Essential Element of Sustainability, will be held from September 3 to 4, at Hilton Barbados.

Minister Sealy lauded the opportunity to collaborate with the OAS on projects that would ???enable us and other member states to progress on the path of sustainable prosperity???.

He added: ???For the greater part of the last century, tourism had transformed itself into one of the most powerful and dynamic industries in the world. As a result of this growth, the industry increasingly has the capacity to maintain or transform the economic fortunes of every country that it impacts as a significant generator of employment, income and foreign exchange.

?????? tourism is not only an economic activity that generates employment and foreign exchange, but is also a catalyst for achieving other strategic objectives related to community development, cultural preservation, environmental management and social inclusion.???
The Tourism Minister said this was the first time since 1989 that the conference would be held here, and he gave the assurance that Barbados would ???work assiduously to ensure that the experience had by all will be a memorable one???.

The Congress, which was established in 1939, brings together ministers and high-level tourism authorities from the hemisphere, as well as other representatives from the private and civil sectors.

The forum also serves as a platform for the exchange of experiences to strengthen communication between government agencies and the private sector. It also permits dialogue on technical cooperation proposals to support member states in their efforts to develop the tourism sector.

The conference is expected to attract more than 250 delegates from each of the 34 OAS member states.

julie.carrington@barbados.gov.bb

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