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Antigua’s Tourism ministry teams up with OAS for security conference

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ST JOHN’S, Antigua- The Ministry of Tourism is partnering with the Organization of American States (OAS) for a conference to assess the security needs of Antigua & Barbuda.

Communications Officer within the ministry Samoya Kirby said the national Tourism Safety and Security Workshop, which runs from October 7 through 11, is part of a region-wide initiative targeting tourism-dependent countries and would focus on terrorism.

Out of the workshop, a special committee is to be set up to draft a policy to mitigate any instances that will affect the sector.“We are hoping to put a committee in place representative of all the members of the stakeholder organisations that will be present at the workshop – the police, defence force, the tourism authority,” Kirby said. “We are hoping to have one or two members from the organisations come together to form this risk assessment committee.”

The committee is expected to meet regularly to strategise responses to terrorism or any natural or man-made disasters.

Technical officer and administrative assistant of tourism in the ministry, Marjorie Beazer, said 90 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GPD) is generated from tourism and it was important to protect the sector.

Beazer said all stakeholders who affect or are affected by the tourism product would be involved in the process.

“We cannot be effective if we have gaps and so we wanted to make sure we had a broad-brush approach and one of the other good things that will come out of this exercise is that OAS is going to follow up with us … once the committee is in place to ensure that things are going smoothly,” she said, adding that sustainability is of top priority.

The conference is a precursor to an Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism conference with a holistic approach to putting strategies and resources in place to ensure visitors to the twin-island state feel safe here.