The process to draft the Saba Tourism Plan 2023-2028 has started. The Tourism Master Plan is being researched and conducted by the Dick Pope Sr. Institute for Tourism Studies, the research arm of the University of Central Florida (UCF) Rosen College of Hospitality Management. During a first information session, which took place online, stakeholders were updated on the ins and outs of the Tourism Master Plan.
Addressed by the presenters Dr. Robertico Croes and Dr. Kelly Semrad during the information session with the stakeholders matters such as why Saba needs a Tourism Master Plan when the Tourism Master Plan would start and end, where the research would be conducted, what research approach would be used and how tourism stakeholders could contribute and participate in the process.
The Saba Tourism Master plan is needed to maintain sustainable tourism development. It aims to increase tourist satisfaction. And, it would pinpoint the economic benefits and protect the basic cultural and natural resources. A quick scan report conducted in October 2021 on the state of Saba’s tourism industry indicated that there are fundamental business challenges within the tourism sector.
The process of the Saba Tourism Master Plan started in February this year and should conclude in August. The process will include visits to Saba and St. Maarten, as Saba’s main hub, as well as desk and case research, and surveys on Saba, the United States, and the Netherlands. Also, an exit survey and a quality-of-life survey will be carried out.
The overall goals of the Tourism Master Plan will be to address the challenges and gaps identified. It will reference how Saba may enhance its competitive position in the Caribbean region, increase tourism’s socio-economic contribution to the island, and determine potential source markets and the audiences that should be targeted. The final product (plan) will provide a cohesive five-year tourism vision for the island that aims to convert the industry into an economic engine to benefit the quality of life for island residents while preserving the sensitive ecological systems surrounding the island.
Dr. Croes visited Saba recently to meet with Tourism Director Malinda Hassell, Commissioner of Tourism Bruce Zagers, senior policy advisor Nicole Johnson and various stakeholders.
Commissioner Zagers stated that the Tourism Master Plan will provide a cohesive vision for tourism, developed in collaboration with all tourism stakeholders. The plan will also address prominent challenges that Saba’s tourism industry faces as it converts the tourism industry into an economic engine that serves all of Saba.
According to Tourism Director Hassell, Saba has hired a world-distinguished university and team of researchers to develop Saba’s 2023-2028 Tourism Master Plan. “It is necessary to maintain a sustainable tourism development of the Unspoiled Queen and to build a resilient tourism pillar. Therefore, a strategic direction is needed to create a cohesive vision for the direction Saba should take to achieve progress in the tourism industry,” she stated.
“A tourism master plan that aims to increase tourist satisfaction, economic benefits, and protect basic cultural and natural resources. It also builds our tourism industry to be more strategic, and resilient and to be able to do SMART investments in the coming years. It is a bottom-up approach and we look forward to the input and feedback of our stakeholders and community in this process as this plan will benefit us all,” Hassell stated.