NASSAU, Bahamas (Jan. 23)–The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, in collaboration with the United Nations World Tourism Organization, will stage a two-day high-level tourism conference on small island developing states in the Americas on Feb. 19 and 20 in the Bahamas.

Meeting under the theme “Tourism as a Key Sector for Development in Island States,” participants from governments, corporations, civil society, interregional and international organizations will address a range of key tourism issues impacting island destinations. These will range from competitiveness, regional integration and sustainability challenges to air connectivity. Other topics include risk management, travel facilitation and community benefit tourism, as well as the sharing of best practices.

The gathering is also an opportunity for national tourism authorities, stakeholders and the international community to provide input to a document to be developed and forwarded to the organizers of the third International Conference on Small Island Developing States, to be held Sept. 1-4 in Apia, Samoa. The global U.N. conference in Samoa marks the 20th anniversary of the Barbados Plan of Action for Small Island Developing States, one of the first major international agreements to recognize the importance of small island states in the international development agenda. Delegates to Apia will focus on the importance of partnership in dealing with their unique vulnerabilities.

The Bahamas meeting will also feature a closed session with ministers of tourism and transport along with airline and aviation executives to discuss solutions to the vexing issues of sustaining predictable air connectivity. 

U.N. World Tourism Organization chief Dr. Taleb Rifai is expected to attend the Bahamas parley along with Hugh Riley, secretary general of the Caribbean Tourism Organization. 

Participation is also expected from the United Nations Environment Programme, the Inter-American Development Bank and other regional and international funding agencies. Registration is free at