Friday, November 27 – A Professor of Anthropology and Women’s Studies, who has also conducted extensive research on the Virgin Islands, is recommending a Territory-wide conversation on the tourism industry.

Dr. Colleen Cohen who has been facilitating a six-week graduate level seminar entitled, “Caribbean Tourism: Through a BVI Lens” at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College said on a recent GIS Radio Report, “There has to be launched a nationwide conversation about what BVI Tourism is, what it should be and what it can be.”

She is of the opinion that all sectors of the community need to be included in this conversation about tourism. “There is a need for greater interaction across different sectors of both Government and the community. We need to bring educators into this; we need to bring small business owners into this. Even if they do not have anything to do with tourism we need to bring people who are out there on the street into this conversation so that there can be a lot of intersection of interest,” she stated Dr. Cohen said the ultimate goal is to have everyone involved working in unison.

“We will all know what we are doing so together people can work to have a tourist industry that is good for the community first. We are not trying to plan a tourism product that is good for the guests, that is hopefully an outcome of a tourism industry that is good for the community.”

Professor Cohen said tourism may seem simple but it is actually a very complicated industry.  “I think we need to begin to educate ourselves more about how tourism works, what the tourist sees when they come to a place that is marketed as Nature Little Secrets; what do they want to see; is what they want to see what they are seeing?; how do the people of the BVI want to be perceived by tourists and if they are not being perceived, how do they want to be perceived?, how do you change tourist perception?”

Dr. Cohen appeared as a guest on the GIS Radio Report ahead of a panel presentation to be held at the HLSCC on Monday, 30 November which represents the culmination of the six-week seminar she facilitated and which was attended by persons from several government departments as well as persons who simply have an interest in tourism.

The presentation will be divided into two segments, with one focusing on Managing BVI Tourism: Sustainability vs. Disequilibrium while the other deals with Planning for the Future of BVI Tourism.  Dr. Cohen explained the significance of the topics. “When you have a successful tourism product such as the BVI has that depends so extensively upon marine resources, but also upon maintaining the beauty of the environment, then you really do need to pay attention to sustaining those resources including the people. People of the BVI are another resource that the tourism industry depends upon and the industry needs to pay attention to the people of the BVI and how they feel about tourism as well,” she stated.

The seminar allowed participants to discuss BVI tourism in the context of tourism as a global industry, Caribbean tourism in general and tourism in the context of issues arising from industry studies, such as maintaining a sustainable tourism industry. The Panel Presentation begins at 7 p.m. in the HLSCC Auditorium.