BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, SEPTEMBER 3RD 2013 (CUOPM) – While St. Kitts and Nevis’ Minister of Tourism, Sen. the Hon. Richard “Ricky” Skerritt is elated with the improvement of St. Kitts’ cruise tourism ranking among the 21 Caribbean destinations in 2012 compared to 2009, there are “worrying signs” in some categories.
An international survey carried out by the United States company, Business Research and Economic Advisors (BREA) based on feedback from visitors about their experience to the 21 cruise destinations, found St. Kitts improved its ranking in the overall visit, meeting expectations, taxi/local transportation, historic sites and museums and tour satisfaction categories.
“Now out of 21 Caribbean countries, the overall visit ranking for St. Kitts is #2 in 2012, up from #4 in 2009,” said Minister Skerritt.
“We are still flat on prices and return for vacations. We are #5 for likeliness of coming back to the island which is a good measure. In the category of Visit Met Expectations, we are up from 3rd place to 2nd place. We have done very well in every other one but let me tell you the ones that concern me right now. In the category, Initial Shore Side Welcome, we have dropped from #4 in 2009 to #6 in 2012 out of 21 countries. Although one might say that #6 is good ranking, the fact that we have dropped is a worrisome sign and the fact that we have dropped is because we continue to have this issue with visitors on arrivals being harassed because everybody is overly anxious to get at the visitor and to get money out of their pockets,” Tourism minister Skerritt told “Good Morning St. Kitts & Nevis host” Lennox Linton on Freedom 106.5 FM.
He said that the other concern is that the friendliness of residents.
“We were #1 in 2009 and now we are down to #2. Although it’s a small drop, it’s also worrying. Courtesy of Employees, we were #1 in 2009 and we have dropped to #3 in 2012 out of 21 destinations. Overall, we were #4 in 2009 and that ranking has improved to #2 in 2012 and a lot of that has had to do with the Tour Satisfaction and the experiences of the Historic Sites and Museums,” Minister Skerritt told listeners.
He said the rankings of St. Kitts’ Scenic Railway and the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park have both gone up tremendously as well as the Visit Met Expectations.
Minister Skerritt pointed out that the Taxi’s and the Local Transportation has improved from 3rd place to 2nd place among the 21 Caribbean destinations and that has to do with the improvement in the dispatching and the quality of the experience that the visitors are having on the taxi’s and tour buses.
“One of the things that helped us in moving forward was that we set out to be globally competitive. We passed legislations that dealt with taxi and tour regulations. We passed legislations that deal with vendor regulation and we have set standards. We have set up training programmes. We have tried to do a systematic approach in improving the quality experience on island and we have gotten good results,” the tourism minister told listeners.
Minister Skerritt however expressed concern over what he called the process of arrival and the harassment and confusion involved in getting cruise passengers to that point.
“There is a plan though, because every year in September, the staff of the Tourism Authority in collaboration with stakeholder groups and the Ministry of tourism officials get together and fine-tune by looking at some of these information, look at the season ahead and talk about how we can all benefit while focusing on the customer experience,” said Minister Skerritt.
He said the cruise ship business is growing. “If the business was getting less, then it would be a bit more hectic, frantic and people would be getting a bit more worried and therefore they lose it.
“Business people tend to get nervous in terms of sales and if sales are not good, they take shortcuts and they cut costs and they do things that end up hurting them in terms of customer experience,” he said.