Basseterre, St. Kitts, March 30, 2022 (SKNBS): Urgent quality improvements in the tourism sector are now closer to becoming reality, thanks to a national dialogue between sector stakeholders and quality institutions in St Kitts and Nevis held this week.
Saint Kitts and Nevis Bureau of Standards (SKNBS), in collaboration with CARICOM Regional Organisation for Standards and Quality (CROSQ), hosted a one-day workshop entitled “National Dialogue between the national quality infrastructure and the tourism sector in Saint Kitts and Nevis” on Tuesday, March 29th, 2022, at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort.
The SKNBS is currently participating in CROSQ’s implementation of the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) Programme, “Support to the CARIFORUM States in furthering the implementation of their Economic Partnership Agreement Commitments and in meaningfully reaping the benefits of the Agreement.” One of the core activities of this project aims at institutionalizing a dialogue forum between national Quality Infrastructure (QI) institutions, regional QI networks, and the private sector. In Saint Kitts and Nevis, such a dialogue forum was developed with the tourism sector. (A similar exercise was conducted with the agriculture sector in 2015).
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Mrs. Jasemin Weekes, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of International Trade et al, stated that the national dialogue with the tourism sector was symbolic.
“It signals that we are in fact serious in making our tourism and related services sector more competitive,” she said. “After all, the tourism sector is a vital foreign exchange earning product for the Federation.”
She noted that the slow but promising resumption of tourism sector services in the federation, it will require urgent and strategic quality improvement, adding that the national dialogue is, therefore “timely and augers well for the tourism sector.”
Also speaking at the opening, Mr. Deryck Omar, CEO of CROSQ, said that the timing of the event was crucial, as St. Kitts and Nevis is in the process of enhancing and expanding its tourism sector and the concurrent development of its QI.
“This represents a great opportunity to develop a QI that is relevant, current, and meeting the specific needs of the tourism sector,” he said. “This national dialogue forum comes at a time when the world is talking about quality in all aspects of our day-to-day living, and where the global demands are there for stricter adherence to standards and less tolerance for errors as it relates to the quality of the land and marine-based products. It is expected that this dialogue will increase awareness and understanding within the sector of the importance of standards and quality to making your businesses more competitive.”
In her keynote address, Mrs. Carlene Henry-Morton, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, stated that her ministry welcomes the opportunity to share its ideas about how they can partner with stakeholders for sustainable development outcomes to raise standards across the board and that they would want to use those standards to enhance the profile of the destination, which will add value to every guest experience, boost the country’s appeal, add to its charm and competitiveness.
“This national dialogue is a call to action, a coming together of the critical stakeholders, the key players, for us to engage each other in lively discussions, to listen to each other’s ideas, to share our concerns, our plan, and to talk about the collective vision we have for the present, and future of this very transversal sector called tourism,” she said.
At the end of the national dialogue, an action plan was developed, which will enable the QI institutions to support the tourism sector in effectively increasing and providing good quality services and products, while meeting the requirements of the market.