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Tourism Minister shares plans post-cruise season; says industry will see increase in employment opportunities

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by Kevon Browne

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): One of the main subsectors of Tourism, one of the Federation’s main economic drivers, will be slowing down in April.

The 2022-2023 winter cruise season is ending in April, and cruise lines are expected to shift their itineraries further north as it gets warmer and enters the spring and summer seasons.

While the cruise industry will slow down, the Tourism Minister. Hon. Marsha Henderson assured that work to keep the tourism industry alive during the spring and summer months, pushing the “Summer of Fun” Campaign.

The “Summer of Fun” Campaign includes pushing Restaurant Week, the St. Kitts Music Festival and CPL when the cruise season slows.

interCaribbean Airways will have its inaugural flight on March 12, filling a gap in intra-regional travel that has been a point of contention throughout the Caribbean, especially after COVID-19 restrictions were lifted regionally.

“It is all part of our overall strategic plan as it relates to airlift to the destination. The ultimate objective is to see growth in airlift. This, of course, will boost intra-regional travel, which was which would affect our second source markets; the biggest source market to the destination is the US prior to the pandemic. The second was the region, and of course, as we said, regional travel is driven by business, events and visiting family, friends and relatives. And so with the introduction of this flight, we’re hopeful that we will see an increase in visitors to the destination from the region.”

With the inclusion of interCaribbean Airways to St. Kitts and Nevis and the marketing push for the 25th St. Kitts Music Festival, the Tourism Minister hopes this will boost the airlift to the destination for the region specifically.

“That means the Music Festival – we launched our first wave of artists on Sunday – with the introduction of interCaribbean we intend to see, and we’re going to markets heavily in the region and have our regional brothers and sisters come to enjoy this historic 25th anniversary.”

In giving statistics on the industry, the Tourism Minister shared that from the 2022-2023 cruise season from October 2022 to date, 501,556 cruise passengers have visited the Federation.

From August to December 2022, the Federation saw 100,178 stayovers compared to pre-pandemic figures in 2019, where the Federation welcomed 163,657 stayovers visitors.

Numbers from Jan 2022 show 6,591 stayovers compared to Jan 2023, where 11,645 passengers stayed over, a 77% increase.

Outside of the external work to continue the push the Tourism economic driver by bringing in more visitors to the Federation, employment opportunities are opening up in the sector with an expected ground break of a new hotel.

“We will have in a few weeks the groundbreaking in relation to a hotel that is going to be opening here in St. Kitts and Nevis on the SouthEast Penninsular. If I can be exact, the groundbreaking ceremony takes place on March 26 over at Cockleshell. This means more employment opportunities for our people, not just in the construction industry but in all areas of the service industry. So that’s in construction. We have real investors who are approaching the government with real job opportunities for our people.”

The Minister also said there would also be employment opportunities through partnerships with cruise lines and teased two projects happening on Port Zante that will add more jobs to the market.

The Caribbean Tourism Organisation, during a recent press conference, shared statistics from the region’s 2022 performance and concluded that travel into the region is expected to increase.

Despite rising prices, supply chain disruptions, food shortages, global inflation and heightened geopolitical tensions, travel to the region will increase further in 2023 with an increase of 10 to 15 per cent or between 31.2 to 32.6 million tourists expected to visit the region this year.

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