Following the demise of sugar production on the island of St Kitts, the Tourism Authority has developed an eight point tourism plan.
The 2006 - 2007 plan emphasises the role that tourism industry must play in the islands economy and will target upscale travellers.
The short-term plan focuses on the product attributes that set the island apart from competition, while also outlining various ways in which the destination will expand its tourism offering and infrastructure.
“With the emphasis and urgency that has been placed on the closure of and transformation from sugar production, it is critical that he government approach the Tourism Industry with even greater care and planning”, said Ricky Skerritt, St Kitts’ Minister in State in the Ministry of Tourism, State in the Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Culture “Thus we have implemented an eight point short-term tourism plan for 2006- 2007.”
In summary, the plan aims to; Attract upscale travellers, improve the existing tourism infrastructure, introduce a wider variety of accommodations and attractions, improve the ability to track the source of tourism arrivals and details of tourism expenditure, expand the training for service providers, maximise the destination status for the World Cup, respect sustainable tourism in the development of project planning and facilitate the economic empowering of small and medium sizes local.
Ricky told BTN that the challenge would be to achieve a balance to ensure there would be enough airlift to bring new visitors to the island. “The largest challenge is to get the right airlift in place in time to ensure that we get the customer flow coming ” He added “even if we are raising our profile in the market, people still have to get there and we have to grow that capacity in tandem with growing the room on the island so it’s a very delicate balance”.
St Kitts recently added two US carriers, US airways and American Airlines, which offer direct flights from Miami, Charlotte and Philadelphia. From the UK there is currently one shared service in operation provided by Gold Caribbean and Excel, St Kitts and Tobago, however this will be reviewed in coming months.
Ricky revealed: “This service won’t be adequate for our needs in coming months and so it is under review in coming months but it is a question of how can we build on what we have already started and improve the experience altogether.”
Visitor numbers to St Kitts have been on the steady increase for the last few years and the tourism authority are optimistic for 2006, predicting a 10% increase in visitor arrivals from 2005, which represents 10, 000 travellers. This number does not include the 250, 000 cruise passengers that travel to the island each year.