St. Kitts Tourism faces the economic challenges

Basseterre, St. Kitts – In a packed press conference on January 20, 2009, St. Kitts’ Senator Ricky Skerritt, Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism, Sports & Culture, reported that despite the current global economic conditions, St. Kitts remains on target to fulfill its long-term plan for the sustainable development of its tourism sector with various projects that even now continue to move forward.

“Kitittians are a resilient, passionate people and will not allow an economic downturn to stand in the way of the pursuit of our goals,” said Senator Ricky Skerritt, Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism, Sports & Culture. “Research has shown that people around the world still want to travel to destinations that offer authentic experiences, a rich heritage and a lush, natural setting in order to restore their sense of balance and well being through interaction with another culture. This will not change, no matter how bad the economic conditions may be. Therefore, now is the time to move confidently forward with an aggressive, optimistic approach to tourism development and promotion that will see us through this difficult time and lead us into a bright future for travel and tourism.”

Minister Skerritt addressing the press

Minister Skerritt addressed the press for approximately 30 minutes, outlining the progress made by several of the island’s new tourism developments, including Christophe Harbour, Marriott’s St. Kitts Beach Club and Ocean’s Edge Resort, as well as noting recent increases in service from top airlines including British Airways, American Airlines and Delta, each of which have added non-stop or direct flights in recent months.

Minister Skerritt opened with a review the island’s recently launched Small Hotels Incentive Package, initiated to help hotels that have from 10 to 99 rooms uphold the highest standards of hospitality. He went on to cite the island-wide “Feel the Warmth in St. Kitts & Nevis” offer as an example of the type of value-added program that can help draw tourists in an economic downturn. Further, he discussed how small destinations such as St. Kitts that focus on niche marketing and providing a high quality visitor experience have the potential to succeed in any environment by forging ahead and rising to meet its challenges head on.

Over the course of the three-day Marketplace event, the St. Kitts delegation met with a number of tour operators from the US and the UK. Those operators from the UK were particularly enthusiastic about the opportunities now available as a result of the new British Airways weekly direct service to St. Kitts that began on January 10, 2009. Meanwhile, US Tour Operators, whose 2008 performance showed significant increases over 2007, expressed genuine excitement and anticipation over St. Kitts’ potential as a premier tourism destination.

Recognizing the inauguration of US President Barack Obama which immediately followed the St. Kitts’ press conference, Minister Skerritt concluded the session by handing out specially designed lapel pins to the press, which depicted the US and St. Kitts & Nevis flag, crossed to represent the twin-island Federation’s support and goodwill of the new US administration.

The St. Kitts six-person delegation led by Senator Ricky Skerritt, Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism, Sports & Culture also consisted of CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority Rosecita Jeffers, Marketing Support Manager for the St. Kitts Tourism Authority Melnecia Daniel, Tourism Officer from the New York office of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority Patrice Henry, St. Kitts’ Tourism Consultant Denise Zimber and St. Kitts’ North American Public Relations Representative Candice Kimmel of Adams Unlimited.

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