Participants at the OCTA workshop in Anguilla.
ANGUILLA–Governor Tim Foy, Chief Minister Victor Banks and Deputy Governor Perin Bradley welcomed workshop leaders from the European Union (EU)-funded Overseas Countries and Territories Association (OCTA) Innovation team, as well as representatives from twelve Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) who travelled from around the world to Anguilla to attend the two-day OCTA workshop with the theme “Innovation for Tourism Growth.” The workshop was held at the La Vue Boutique Inn on October 11 and 12.
OCTA’s overall objective is to enhance sustainable development of the OCTs through innovative solutions that address economic development and diversification while improving regional and global competiveness. The workshop provided representatives from Bonaire, Curaçao, Montserrat, Wallis and Futuna, the Turks and Caicos Islands, St. Maarten, French Polynesia, United Kingdom, Belgium, Denmark, Morocco and host country Anguilla the opportunity to discuss and explore avenues for OCT governments to better foster innovation in tourism in order to compete in the larger international tourism marketplace.
Chief Minister Victor Banks in his opening remarks said, “This is a very important workshop. In Anguilla, we have come a long way in our tourism industry, but we have a long way still to go. While tourism is the mainstay of our island’s economy, it is imperative that we recognise what has worked for us in the past and develop measures to ensure that we stay on track with the goals that we seek to achieve in the future. We must ensure that we come up with innovative ideas and solutions for even better outcomes. If we as OCTs are to be able to compete globally as unique destinations, it is critically important that we assess the challenges that we face, break boundaries and alter the path that we are so familiar with. Innovation involves the deliberate application of information, imagination and initiative.”
OCTA Vice-President Tracy Knight briefly covered the scope of the OCT membership and the history of the OCTA. She said of the OCTs’ composition, “Twelve are linked to the United Kingdom, six to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, six to France and one to Denmark. Although there are differences in size, relative growth, geographical characteristics, physical isolation, and internal political organisation, we have much in common including our small insular micro economies, coastal and marine resources and special relationships with our member states.” In 2000, OCT representatives began meeting together to coordinate their views and work towards common goals. They established the OCTA in 2003 with 13 members and were registered in Belgium as a non-profit organisation. Today the OCTA includes 22 OCTs.
Milan Jezic von Gesseneck, OCTA Innovation’s Team Leader described the workshop’s theme and focus, “The time has come to ask the right questions and find new answers to how OCT governments can best foster innovation in tourism. OCTs should not be copycats for other countries’ innovation policies; OCTs need to find their own way. Those island destinations that have identified and implemented innovative solutions, creative attractions and visitor services tend to be more successful in securing constant growth and overcoming geopolitical issues and natural disasters.”
Bren Romney, Director of the Department of Youth and Culture and Anguilla’s Innovation Director, served as the workshop’s moderator along with Nordisia Lake, Programme Officer at the Department of Youth and Culture.