The Premier of Montserrat Launches Tourism Stakeholders Advisory Council

Premier and Minister of Tourism, Hon. Joseph E. Farrell officially commissioned a 14-member ‘Montserrat Tourism Stakeholders Advisory Council’ to serve as a think-tank, and in an advisory capacity on matters of global tourism marketing and product trends which would inform tourism policy and strategy for the island.

The council was officially announced during a Town Hall meeting on Monday November 9, 2020 which was led by the Tourism Division, Office of the Premier.

The council members will serve on a voluntary basis from November 9, 2020 to December 31, 2021. The Council Members are:

  1. Ron Barzey, Cathron – Arts & Craft
  2. Norman Cassell, Namcas Enterprises Tour – Operator/Tour Guide
  3. Roselyn Cassell-Sealy, Travel World – Tour & Taxi Association
  4. James “Scriber” Daley, Scriber’s Adventure – Tours Hiking/Outdoor Adventure
  5. Sarita Francis, Montserrat National Trust – Environment /History / Culture
  6. Merle Galloway, Tropical Mansion Suites – Accommodation
  7. Reinford “Kulcha Don” Gibbons, VIP Penthouse and Suite – Entertainment
  8. Nerissa Golden, Goldenmedia/Discover Montserrat – Media
  9. Angela Greenaway, Community College – Academia
  10. Florence Griffith-Joseph, Old Sugar Mill – Chamber of Commerce & Industry
  11. Nigel / Shelley Harris, Fly Montserrat – Air
  12. Dwayne Hixon, Emerald Isle Real Estate –  Real Estate
  13. Emmy Aston, Scuba Montserrat – Watersports
  14. Genishwar Beni, Summer Breeze – Restaurant

Minister of Tourism, Hon. Farrell delivered the following remarks at the Town Hall Meeting:

“Ladies and gentlemen, a very good evening to you.

It is truly a pleasure to welcome all of you here this evening on what is undoubtedly a major milestone in the development of our local tourism sector.

The last seven months have been difficult for all of us who call Montserrat home. COVID-19 has dealt the entire world a heavy blow and Montserrat certainly has not been left out. 

So to say that the pandemic is the biggest threat that we’ve ever seen to our economies and even lifestyles, is a mild understatement. The government has had to make some tough calls to ensure that we keep the economy afloat and to this point, we have been able to weather the storm.  

A number of protocols have been developed and proposed by the region’s main public organizations, such as CARICOM, the OECS and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), in conjunction with the Caribbean Tourism Organization and the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association.

In fact, just last Thursday, CARPHA would have launched the Caribbean Travelers Health Assurance Stamp for “Healthier Safer Tourism” and a new Health App. These were developed to secure the confidence of the region’s citizens, our travel partners and prospective visitors.

Around the world, for the Travel & Tourism sector to thrive, and for it to develop in a sustainable manner, governments need to provide a supportive physical, regulatory, fiscal and social environment – an environment that is also conducive to business development.

Indeed, government’s role in Travel & Tourism is generally to:

  • Set national tourism policy
  • Determine and allocate the tourism budget
  • Establish an appropriate legislative framework
  • Oversee the administrative structures for policy delivery
  • Assess and influence wider government policies impacting on tourism
  • Put in place appropriate research, statistics and evaluation programmes

And for many governments, that role also extends to Destination Marketing and Product development, but it doesn’t stop there, successful tourism destinations also have a strong and vibrant private sector, working in collaboration with the government and the national tourism organization.

And this brings us to our main reason for being here today. The Office of the Premier and the Tourism Division have recognized that there is a need to strengthen the relationships between government and our tourism stakeholders.

The formation of a Tourism Stakeholders Advisory Council (TSAC) to inform tourism policy and strategy for Montserrat can set the tone in realizing the Vision for the local tourism industry – “Sustainable Development through Quality Tourism” – whereby it ensures that tourism development on the island keeps pace with national and socio-economic development.

The main objective would be to improve the competitiveness of the tourism industry using a multi-stakeholder approach.

The TSAC would help define Montserrat’s branding position, and by focusing on the development of the island’s tourism product and ensuring adherence to industry standards and best practices, it would play a major role in the delivery of the brand promise.

I. OBJECTIVES OF THE COUNCIL

The main objectives of the Advisory Council would be to serve as a think-tank, and in an advisory capacity on matters of global tourism marketing and product trends. It would 

advise the Government as to how Montserrat can take advantage of these trends as well as to mitigate against the potential loss of market share and decrease in visitor expenditure.

The Council would be the primary conduit for representation of the tourism sector to the Government of Montserrat, by providing advice to GoM and the Tourism Division on tourism-related issues that also have an impact on the wider community.

As it did in the formulation of the Tourism Master Plan in 2015 and more recently, the Tourism Strategy in 2019, Government would also seek out recommendations from the Advisory Council on the development of policy and strategy relating to tourism in Montserrat.

We are confident that this enhanced collaboration would identify gaps in the tourism product offering, as well as barriers to providing positive visitor experiences, making recommendations on how these gaps and barriers can be addressed.

 Other objectives of the TSAC include:

  • Helping to grow the visitor economy on a sustainable basis.
  • Informing the establishment of tourism industry standards.
  • Providing input on key marketing and branding activities to support increased visitor demand to Montserrat.
  • Assisting in building stronger local community awareness of the importance and value of tourism to the economy.
  • Recommending tourism industry training and capacity building initiatives.
  • To help build positive relationships between GoM and all tourism stakeholders.
  • To act as a sounding board for new tourism ideas and initiatives.
  • To provide feedback for tourism campaigns and initiatives.
  • To identify new tourism related partnership opportunities.
  • Ensuring that there is an alignment between the tourism related objectives and activities of the various local partners and national tourism initiatives.

II. COMPOSITION OF THE COUNCIL

The Council shall consist of a maximum of fifteen (15) members including professionals from the following sectors:

  • Accommodation (hotel, villa, B&B)
  • Tour & Taxi Association
  • Montserrat Industry of Commerce and Industry
  • Montserrat National Trust
  • Sites & Attractions
  • Cruise line agent/tour operator
  • Watersports
  • Air Transportation
  • Restaurants
  • Academia
  • Media
  • Entertainment/Culture
  • Arts & Craft

Members were invited to serve in a voluntary capacity on the Council based upon their expertise and insight about the sectors that they represent.

Their term shall run from today, November 9, 2020 thru through to December 31, 2021 and we are grateful for the commitment shown by the Council Members for agreeing to be a part of this consultative body.

From 2022, terms would be for a calendar year.

I must also add that the work to be done does not just fall on the shoulders of the Council Members to whom you will be introduced shortly. It is anticipated that sub-committees would be established and would include other members from the ranks of the private sector to deliberate over a specific matter, for example, accommodation, transportation, and so on.

As I mentioned earlier, the Government has had to make some difficult decisions, one of which is the continued closure of our borders; this despite the fact that some of our regional neighbours have begun to reopen.

This really has to do with the ability to manage risk. Because any country that relaxes its restrictions and begins to accept visitors en masse, is opening itself to certain risks, including the spread of the virus among the local population and most importantly, the pressure on its health care resources. This is what has influenced this government’s decision to be ultra-cautious.

You would note that in the recent SRO, we have expanded the category of persons who can enter the country and coupled with that, we have established government designated quarantine facilities, providing persons with an option for early release if they so desire. But this does not remove the mandatory 14 days’ quarantine for persons who wish to stay at home on arrival.  

We have also laid the platform for the development of the Remote Worker Programme -where we would be promoting Montserrat as an ideal destination to visit for an extended period and where a visitor would be able to work as if in their home country.

 You would be hearing more about this in the coming weeks from the Minister of Communications, Works, Labour and Energy.

Partners, as we continue to build our capacity to develop a more sustainable and competitive model of tourism development for our island of Montserrat,

 I extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to the members of the Montserrat Tourism Stakeholders Advisory Council. The Office of the Premier and by extension, the Tourism Division, is here to help create a business environment for all tourism stakeholders and we look forward to working more closely with you.

I thank you.”

This article was provided by the Office Of The Premier, Montserrat.

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