Over the past twenty-five years Anguilla has carefully developed a relatively small but high-end tourism sector, which has enjoyed some of the region’s highest growth rates. Stay-over arrivals jumped from 111,118 in 2002 to 164,067 in 2007 and contributed to growth in economic activity, foreign exchange earnings and employment.
Current tourism policy articulates a number of guiding principles that shape the policy objectives for the sector. The strategy focuses on using Anguilla’s environment, culture and people as the foundation for building a unique product, and incorporates elements of industry regulation, environmental sustainability, inter-sectoral linkages, human resource development and sector planning, among other things.
To enable the full realisation of the policy, GOA launched the Tourism Sector Development Project, a comprehensive tourism planning exercise, in July 2008. The first phase of this project began by undertaking a socio-economic impact analysis of selected tourism projects and by carrying out a survey to assess the attitudes of citizens and residents towards tourism and tourists. The results, which became available in early 2009, confirmed the likely socio-economic strain on Anguilla and its 14,000 residents from planned and existing tourism products over the next decade. However, the attitudinal survey indicated that most Anguillans had a very positive view of tourism and held the strong belief that decisions related to tourism development should rest with the State. Moreover, local people wanted to be more involved in decision-making and monitoring the tourism product at the community level.
The second phase of TSDP entailed the development of a Sustainable Tourism Master Plan (STMP), the purpose of which is to guide the development of the tourism industry during the period 2010 - 2020. The STMP is to form the basis for diversifying and improving the quality of Anguilla's tourism product, based on a complete review of the local tourism sector and analysis of competing tourist destinations.
The third phase involved the Institutional Development Plan for the Tourism Division of the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development, Investment, Commerce and Tourism (MFEDICT). This study outlined the Institutional Framework and Resources necessary for the Tourism Division within MFEDICT to coordinate, regulate, monitor and evaluate tourism sector activity during the Master Plan period (2010 - 2020).