by Devonne Cornelius
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Opposition Leader the Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas is taking the government to task for the decline in funds being allocated to the Ministry of Tourism and the St. Kitts Tourism Authority (SKTA) for the 2022 fiscal year.
“In a year in which we are trying to recover from a pandemic,…bring more life to our nation and lay the foundation for long term development, there is a significant contraction in the resources committed to tourism marketing,” Dr. Douglas highlighted.
A total of $32.7 million for the Ministry of Tourism and the SKTA is being proposed by the government for the 2022 estimates. In 2021, the Ministry of Tourism and the SKTA were allocated $34 million.
Dr. Douglas said “this has been cut by nearly $1.5 million or over 4.5 percent and this in my view is a betrayal of the hoteliers who have been encouraged to open or reopen their facilities while the government reduces its marketing effort and exposes them to the high risk of huge cash shortfalls and thus premature closure. The overall effect is loss of jobs for employees.”
During the Budget Address on Tuesday, December 14, 2021, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Hon. Dr. Timothy Harris noted that the Tourism Sector is expected to see growth by 109.6 percent and contribute 4.7 percent to GDP.
“The commencement of operations of Ramada Resort in Newtown Ground, St. Paul’s and the reopening of a number of existing hotels would definitely generate jobs that were lost during the pandemic and create some economic stimulation in the short term,” Dr. Douglas said.
“But their operations over the long term are not sustainable unless there is a steady flow of stayover tourist visitors to our shores through sustained and well-targeted marketing by the government and the private sector,” he added.
Prime Minister Harris explained that through long-standing arrangements, the government was able to restart airlift to the RLB International Airport with American Airlines, Delta, Seaborne, and LIAT. Air Canada is expected to re-introduce its service from Toronto to St. Kitts on December 19, 2021.