Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 04, 2015 (SKNIS): Global tourism is a major economic driver aimed at fostering growth and development in St. Kitts and Nevis, said Mrs. Carlene Henry-Morton, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, during a Yachting Development Forum held at the Ocean Terrace Inn on Tuesday, November 03.
The permanent secretary reflected on research carried out by the Economic Commission of Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC) which showed that tourism is a critical contributor to the development of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“Tourism contributes roughly 6.7 percent directly and 25.5 percent in total to our national development,” she said. “This translates to US$185.8 million or a total visitor expenditure of EC$ 299.92 million annually.” She noted that almost 30 percent of the labour force is directly or indirectly employed in the tourism sector.
Mrs. Henry-Morton noted that tourism will forever play a critical role in the future of St. Kitts and Nevis.
“Clearly, tourism now and for the foreseeable future will continue to be critical to the continued prosperity of our nation and well-being of our people,” Mrs. Henry-Morton said, adding that it is important to continually innovate and intensify efforts in order to add to existing offerings and explore ways to keep the destination fresh and attractive.
She further stated recommendations offered by ECLAC where there is the need for Caribbean countries to undertake various efforts towards diversifying their economies.
“One area identified for specific development is yachting and marina services, a subsector which is widely regarded as having significant economic potential,” said the permanent secretary, while noting that the Ministry of Tourism has been collaborating with stakeholders to strategically develop the yachting sector as a means of adding value to the country’s tourism product.
She stressed on the point made by Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Ambassador, Dr. Len Ishmael, where she noted that the local yachting sector is a niche market which is ripe for investment and is an avenue for promoting the Federation and attracting a new generation of tourists.
“Given that the Caribbean yachting grounds have been the second most popular in the world after the Mediterranean and giving St, Kitts & Nevis’ close proximity to established yachting hubs such as Antigua, St. Maarten and St. Barts, and given that we are blessed with several natural bays and shelters, clear crystal waters for diving and other water sports, the Ministry of Tourism is confident that our Federation is indeed naturally positioned to take full advantage of this niche market,” she said.
The permanent secretary pointed to the yachting development vision statement which reads that “It is the vision of the Federal Government of St. Kitts and Nevis to facilitate this policy, the development of a world-class and sustainable yachting sector, which contributes to strengthening our economy and improving the quality of life of the local community, while providing a memorable experience for visitors.”
She said that this vision statement sums up the significant role the tourism sector is set to play through its contribution to national and tourism product development.