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Bahamas Hosts Small Island Tourism Summit

By LINDSAY THOMPSON

BAHAMAS INFORMATION SERVICES

The Ministry of Tourism is hosting a Small Island Developing States Conference (SIDS) in Nassau from February 19-20 at the Melia Nassau Beach Resort.

The two-day conference will be held in conjunction with the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). under the theme: ‘Tourism as a Key Sector for Development in Island States’..

The conference is being held as the Ministry of Tourism celebrates 50 years of existence, with February being dubbed ‘Sustainable Tourism Month’.

Harrison Thompson, permanent secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, said: “We will be able to address a range of relevant tourism issues impacting island destination. So, it must be said that this is a critical undertaking.”

The UNWTO secretary general, Dr Taleb Rifai, as well as the Caribbean Tourism Organisation secretary general, Hugh Rile,y is expected to attend the conference.

“Tourism, now, more than ever, is considered a major player in world economies. Furthermore, we see tourism expanding, accounting for more and more of the income of various nations,” Mr Thompson said.

The UNWTO reported impressive growth in tourism around the world in 2013; stating that international tourist arrivals grew by 5 per cent and the UNWTO forecasts the trend to continue this year.

International arrivals were up by 52 million last year, achieving a record 1.08 billon. According to the UNWTO, Asia and the Pacific regions are the big leaders in growth, followed by Africa, Europe and the Americas.

“We in the Caribbean and the Bahamas must keep pace. We too must always look to grow our tourism product. However, it only makes sense to do this in a sustainable way so that we are not looking at quick success, and then a sharp drop in our results,” Mr. Thompson said.

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