by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN) – Goldha Franks, Product Development Manager in the St. Kitts Tourism Authority (SKTA), made a statement on December 7, in light of the first week in December, dubbed Buzzy cruise activity, promising busy cruise activity on St. Kitts with triple, quadruple, and quintuple cruise calls through December 5-8.
The season started with the Seabourn Venture on October 10 and will run until the cruise lines switch to European destinations in April 2023.
The SKTA Product Development Manager credited the increased activity to the contribution to the development of the economy.
“The St. Kitts Tourism Authority is ecstatic about this week’s buzz cruise activity. Buzz cruise activity symbolises our people’s invaluable contribution to the overall economic development, to showcase the beauty, rich history, vibrant culture and experiences the destination has to offer… We are perpetually grateful for the sustained partnerships with our associate cruise partners and their continued support as we strengthen our presence across various itineraries… The trajectory for cruise is bright and expanding; therefore, we look forward to continued growth in our beautiful destination.”
Franks said this week’s activity represents the relationship between the SKTA and cruise partners.
“It means for St. Kitts that we have an excellent relationship with our cruise partners. In addition, it is an opportunity for our nationals to benefit economically in terms of having the opportunity for visitors to visit the respective stores and purchase various crafts, visit the different restaurants and also attractions throughout the destination.”
Cruise activity will follow a similar trajectory in the first week of December, with three or more calls most days for the rest of the month. The Product Development Manager was asked whether the SKTA incorporated the 2022-2023 Carnival activities in marketing packages for the island. Franks said the SKTA encourages visitors who would be on the island during marquee events to indulge in Carnival.
“We are also pushing the Carnival tourism product to ensure that our visitors, internationally and stayover visitors, are aware that we have Carnival during this time of year and also when stakeholders and our visitors come on the cruise ships, especially on [Carnival Grand Parade Day] and J’ouvert we always encourage our visitors to take a walk in Basseterre and see our rich, vibrant culture and have an opportunity to infuse in our carnival product.”
While some taxi and tour operators have noted difficulties in soliciting passengers from the cruise, WINN had a chance to speak to a new taxi and tour operator at Port Zante on December 7 who had a more positive view of his experience for the season.
“[The] tourism season, to me, is on a nice and smooth start. This is actually my first season here and doing my own taxi operation services, so I find it really remarkable that they are giving me time. I am just grateful and thankful to actually have the opportunity to come out here and conduct my own service to put St. Kitts on the map and make the whole country a better place for our travelling visitors,” said Eugene of Nature Touch Tours and Taxis Services.
The new taxi and tour operator is two weeks into the job and said he had no complaints.
“I would say [the season] is pretty good for the [time being]… I have no complaints up to this moment in time. Like I said, I’m new at this; this is actually my second week in, and so far, so good.”
While the tourism industry is on the mend following two years of significantly reduced activity, international reports suggest that growth in 2023 with still be below pre-pandemic levels.
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), a research and analysis company that provides forecasting and advisory services, recently released its 2023 Tourism report, which assesses the growth prospects, top risks and critical trends facing the sector next year.
According to the report, the economic downturn, sanctions on Russia, and China’s zero-covid strategy will delay recovery. International tourism arrivals will increase by 30% in 2023, following growth of 60% in 2022, but will remain below pre-pandemic levels.
The report further indicated that hotels, restaurants and airports would struggle to cope with labour shortages, wage demands, and high food and energy prices.
As with any sector reported on, climate change has an impact. The EIU finds that the effects of climate change on the tourism industry will become more apparent, with high temperatures, water shortages and floods forcing tourism destinations to take action.
However, international airlines are expected to return to profitability, benefiting from continued pent-up demand.
The World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) says tourism is almost at a similar level to pre-pandemic levels, as travel and tourism globally have generated about US$9.6 trillion. At the end of 2022, it is projected that the industry will generate US$8.4 – $8.5 trillion. The trillion-dollar deficit from pre-pandemic levels has been accredited to China not reopening as yet.
China recently announced sweeping changes to its zero-COVID regime since the pandemic began three years ago.
The relaxation of rules, includes allowing infected people with mild symptoms to quarantine at home and drop testing for people travelling domestically
The impact on tourism as Beijing pivots away from its zero-COVID policy is left to be seen.
The local outlook for the tourism industry from the experts continues to be positive as the Country continues to move away from the negative impact of COVID-19 restrictions on the country’s tourism product in 2020 and 2021.