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Tourism Minister shares goal of transforming Federation into a year-round destination


by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN):  Currently, the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis is in its Tourism off-season, where there is a lull in the amount of and frequency with which cruise ships come to the island, and beds are filled at our hotels.


St. Kitts and Nevis is predominantly sort after during the winter season, which runs from November to April. Still, the Tourism Minister, Hon. Marsha Henderson, shared a goal of the government to change the Federation’s seasonal destination designation.


“We are also working on our strategy to make sure that ultimately we can make the destination a year-round destination so that it’s no longer seasonal and of course that is a long-term goal,” – Tourism Minister, Hon. Marsha Henderson, during the Prime Minister’s Press conference on July 13.


The strategy to transform the Federation into a year-round destination is a long-term goal, according to the Minister of Tourism.


Such a goal would need a considerable about of investment not just in marketing the destination as such but also in infrastructure updates, an increase of bed stock, year-round attractions and events to help sell the destination and a commitment to the sustainability of the island’s beach, historical attractions and support for the vendors, taxi and tour operators and owners/facilitators of excursions.


The Tourism Ministry in continuing to develop the sector, has embarked on efforts to have sector stakeholders licensed to operate in the destination.


Consultations with stakeholders are ongoing, followed by compulsory training and licensing for beach vendors, taxi and tour operators, etc., to ensure all industry stakeholders are licensed operators recognised by the government.


“The hope is that we can convert the destinations to a year-round destination as opposed to being seasonal. So during this time, just before October and November comes the winter season and the beginning of the cruise season; within the Ministry, we are updating our policies and working with our stakeholders to make sure that when the season starts, we are efficient. So we have a schedule for consultations. We have the department for policy and research who are working; they have revised some of the policies. We’re currently at the stage where we are consulting all stakeholders. So far, we’ve met with Inland Revenue and the Minister of Finance; we’ve met with Agriculture as relates to our Primate Petting vendors and how they operate at our ports and our different prescribed spaces. So we’ve met with Agriculture and even St. Kitts Bio-medical Association in terms of how we can partner in the industry. We’ve met with Inland Revenue in terms of how we’re doing with registration and issuing of licenses.”


Outside of stakeholder development, the infrastructure in the industry also needs addressing, especially repairs and upgrades to the airport.


Concerns were raised at the press conference that the repairs to the apron at the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport would not be completed before the 2023/2024 winter season.


Minister Henderson assured that the repairs to the apron would be completed by the start of the winter season.


“As it relates to the work on the apron, I received a report from the Board of Directors from their last meeting, I think about a week ago, where the Board agreed that the project or the repair to the apron should be put out for tender. The chairman is leading that initiative, and I am not sure if it’s out as yet, but that was the decision taken by the Board. The decision related to temporary repair to the apron as opposed to permanently fixing that part of the apron and that was based on the fact that there is going to be some work being conducted at the airport on terminals. We are in some discussions at SCASPA for permanent work, not just on the apron but on the terminals. Work is going to be temporary because we want to be ready, as you said, for the winter season that starts in November. It is going to be sufficient to accommodate the aircraft that we anticipate, and that would be the usual legacy carriers – British Airways, American, United – the temporary repairs to the apron would be sufficient, and we should be able to complete the work by then.”


The Government has made significant strides in increasing the amount of airlift to St. Kitts and Nevis, with interCaribbean starting in March 2023, Caribbean Airways beginning in July and JetBlue in November to accompany legacy carriers American Airlines and British Airways and others who continue their service the St. Kitts and Nevis.


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