Open seas for ‘yachties’ in the OECS
Marine authorities in the Eastern Caribbean want to give effect to a single yachting space for the sub-region.
BASSETERRE, St Kitts, Thursday October 13, 2011 – The seas of the Grenadines have long been a playground for the rich and famous while the Antigua Sailing Week is touted among the world’s top five regattas. Now, marine authorities in the Eastern Caribbean want to allow seamless travel for the yacht owners who sail down to visit the sub-region.
The initiative, called “ESeaClear”, will facilitate seamless intra-regional travel for yachts visiting the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS); while implementing security management to ensure that movement of yachts between OECS territories does not compromise the integrity of the single yachting space.
The go-ahead for this was given at the September 28 meeting of the recently re-constituted the OECS Yachting Committee, which was re-initiated by the OECS Secretariat through a mandates given by the OECS Council of Tourism Ministers at their last meeting held in April 2011 in St. Kitts.
A unanimous decision was taken at the September meeting to pursue an agreement by all OECS member states to fully implement the ESeaClear system. This would function as a web portal to enable yachts to enter clearance information online in advance of arrival, to expedite their customs and immigration formalities at the port. The use of ESeaClear would serve as a platform to facilitate hassle-free movement of yachts across OECS waters.
Programme officer at the OECS Secretariat Dr Lorraine Nicholas was in full support of the move, noting that: “Yachting visitors represent a potentially lucrative market for the OECS with opportunities for the further development of related business services, skills development and employment.”
She added that the purpose of the Yachting Committee was to deliberate on, and make suggestions and recommendations to the OECS Secretariat for the implementation of the mandates and directives given by the OECS Council of Tourism Ministers with respect to yachting. The Committee would also play advisory and facilitative roles with respect to implementation of actions required at the national level to fulfil Ministerial mandates, explained Nicholas.
The Committee comprises representatives from the nine OECS member states, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Monserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines (plus Anguilla and the BVI as Associate Members). Other agencies such as the Caribbean Marine Association and the Caribbean Customs Law Enforcement Council were also invited to the September meeting of the Committee.
Revenue collection management, including the adoption of a mechanism that safeguards the income-earning potential of member states, was also discussed at the meeting and recommendations on this and the ESeaClear are being readied in a progress report for the next meeting of the OECS Authority with responsibility for yachting, slated for November.