Listening and viewing audience, a pleasant good evening to you all.
Tonight it is my pleasure to bring remarks on the occasion of Tourism Month in St. Kitts. We are pleased that our month-long observance coincides with Caribbean Tourism Month in November and Caribbean Tourism Day today as we seek to highlight our achievements and showcase the strides made in tourism. I wish to share with you some points relating to the international observance of World Tourism Day on September 27, 2015 under the theme “One billion tourists, one billion opportunities”. However, for our month’s observance, I shall localize it to read “One million tourists, one million opportunities” as we shall be reaching the milestone of welcoming our one millionth cruise passenger during the 2015-2016 cruise season. Certainly, this is cause for celebration!
The tourism industry is dynamic, and lots have been and will be happening to propel the sector forward. Tomorrow, 3rd November, we will be hosting a Yachting Forum to bring stakeholders together to share ideas on opportunities and challenges facing the sector. We shall also discuss key programmes and marketing strategies that could be employed to promote the yachting sector in the Federation, as well as identify specific actions needed to stimulate the future growth and development of the yachting industry. Moreover, we have taken a step further by recruiting a Yachting Liaison Officer to address the issues facing the sector. This demonstrates our commitment to the process of diversifying the sector and strengthening our institutional capacity to better meet the needs of the yachting sector.
In keeping with our diversification efforts, I recently visited Canada and England where I signed agreements with golfing associations to further promote sports tourism and establish St. Kitts as a golfing destination. As we all know, golfers tend to have high disposable incomes and when they visit with their spouses, they would most likely spend significantly in the destination.
In August 2015, St. Kitts signed an agreement with the Golf Association of Ontario which will see St. Kitts hosting a 2-ball Shoot out from December 5 – 12, 2015 at the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club. Similarly, on September 29, I signed a three-year partnership between St. Kitts and Barmy Army Golf in England to raise the profile of our destination in the UK golf market. This will entail the hosting of annual St. Kitts and Barmy Army exclusive golf events, the inaugural being launched in November 2016. These new partnerships further complement the St. Kitts and Nevis Admiral’s Cup Pro-am Golf Tournament now in its sixth year.
Additionally, as part of efforts to build capacity and empower our people during the period September to November, we have been conducting taxi training seminars for taxi operators to lift the quality of service and enhance the overall visitor experience. However, training will not be limited to the transportation sector as we shall extend it to shops, vendors and to employees in the industry.
Listening audience, I am happy to reiterate that we shall be welcoming our millionth cruise ship passenger during the 2015-2016 cruise season. This means additional opportunities for small businesses and local communities. We therefore are encouraging prospective entrepreneurs to devise creative and workable ideas for new attractions so that our guests can be fully engaged. We recognize however, that we have much work to do in the area of stay-over tourists. The opening of Kittitian Hill at Belle Mont Farm, continued work on the Park Hyatt Hotel at Banana Bay, construction of the Koi Resort and Residences and other real estate projects point to the need for us to intensify our marketing and grow our stay-over arrivals. That is where the money is, and we are working steadfastly with our tourism partners to grow this segment.
As Minister of Tourism, I encourage all of our citizens to come on board and to become a part of the excitement and dynamism of tourism. Tourism is everyone’s business, and each one of us has a part to play by showing hospitality to visitors, becoming more knowledgeable about our country, showing an interest in working in the industry and in promoting our destination, as word-of-mouth marketing is one of the most powerful tools to create positive images of our country.
During the course of this month the St. Kitts Tourism Authority along with the Ministry of Tourism will be organizing a number of activities which include:-
– Talks in Schools
– Radio and television programmes
– A Video/photo competition
It is therefore my pleasure to declare Tourism Month officially open.