BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – The Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) have injected millions of dollars into the federation’s tourism industry to keep the sector vibrant.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Terrence Crossman, speaking at a recent event at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort, noted, that tourism has become the main service industry and the most important economic activity.
Noting that ongoing enhancement and strategic marketing of the tourism product have contributed to the popularity of St. Kitts and Nevis as a destination, he pointed out that rising fuel costs and increased security regulations make travel expensive and frustrating for passengers and that efforts must be made to ensure that visitors to St. Kitts and returning nationals, particularly by airlifts, have an experience that surpasses expectations from the moment the aircraft lands.
“Additionally, in order to attract increasing traffic to St. Kitts and Nevis, the destination must be marketed widely at international trade shows and expositions,” he told participants.
The Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, he said is committed to ensuring that St. Kitts and Nevis remains ahead of the competition.
He disclosed that the SIDF is funding four tourism-related projects which include airlift support, reconfiguration of Waving Gallery at the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport, participation in the Shanghai Trade Exposition, the establishment of the Small Hotel and Restaurant Modernisation Fund and the construction of the Kittitian Hill Resort at Belmont.
“The increasing number of visitors who are attracted to the destination, the expansion of the tourism industry and ancillary services, and the increasing importance of tourism to the social and economic development of the island, demand a reliable air transport service,” said Mr. Crossman.
The SIDF he said has partnered with the St. Kitts Tourism Authority to secure airlift from the United Kingdom and North America.
“Since 2009, the Foundation has contributed EC$3,780.000 annually to the St. Kitts Tourism Authority’s Marketing Fund to ensure our UK source market is serviced by British Airways. Additionally, in 2010 the SIDF provided assistance totaling EC$4,320,000 to ensure that the American Airlines service from our main US markets, Miami and New York, continued without interruption,” said Mr. Crossman.
He said the economic impact of this project has been significant, particularly in relation to airlift from the United States and the United Kingdom markets.
“Despite the global economic downturn, partly because of the subsidy, airlift to the Federation has not been affected despite closing of operation in some markets for some major airlines. It is important to point out that the airlift support to secure AA flights from the United States directly benefits the local population. Just imagine not being able to fly directly to New York and Miami to visit family and, of course, shop,” said Mr. Crossman.
Pointing out that the airport experience is a key component of the overall visitor experience as first and final impressions are often lasting, the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) contributed EC$75,000 to the St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA) to reconfigure the waving gallery at the airport thus expanding the emigration and security areas.
This change has created a more comfortable environment and accelerated the departure process for passengers.
With the emphasis of services as the new engine of economic growth, it is crucial that St. Kitts and Nevis be promoted to the world as a trading partner with an attractive investment potential.
A grant of EC$197,454.34 from the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) to the St. Kitts Investment Promotion Agency (SKIPA) made it possible for the Federation to participate in the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, The People’s Republic of China.
Thirteen CARICOM countries participated in the exposition, which ran for six months, from May to October. The expo carried the theme “Better City, Better Life” and was an opportunity for the Federation to showcase its culture and heritage with the expectation of piquing the interests of both investors and visitors.