BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - AS the Federation joined the world yesterday to recognize September 27 as World Tourism Day, Minister Marsha Henderson had called for attention to be focused on Eco-tourism as the rebound and rebrand begin.
In her national address, Henderson explained that as they continue to innovate the current tourism offerings, attention must be placed on the shifts in travel across the globe and how St. Kitts & Nevis could insert itself within those current trends.
In particular, the Minister believes that they should begin diversifying their product offering.
“One in particular, which I mentioned earlier, is that we are seeing eco-tourism, agritourism and sustainability as key points of interest from travellers. The Federation has already been working to create sustainable programmes and councils including the Heart of St. Kitts Sustainability Charter, the St. Kitts Sustainable Destination Council (SDC), Sustainable Nevis and the St. Kitts Eco-Park,” the Minister noted.
She believes that the Federation is in a unique position to promote this type of tourism since the islands themselves “house protected biodiversity and ecosystems, including the Central Reserve Rainforest in St. Kitts”.
“This protected Rainforest covers approximately 25% of the island and continues to grow and expand. In terms of travel accommodations, both islands offer “green” and eco-friendly options including Oualie Beach Resort in Nevis which has received Green Globe Certification, as well as Belle Mont Farm and Sunset Reef on St. Kitts. Belle Mont Farm continues to be a leader in the sustainability space, sourcing as much as possible from the land, forest and sea that surrounds the hotel.
“The new Sunset Reef has already received international recognition for its eco-friendly practices and boasting truly advanced geo-thermal technological management systems for energy. It also provides an eco-friendly sewage treatment plant, cleaning products, and a cutting-edge filtration system that provides guests with clean drinking water while eliminating plastic bottles,” she explained.
For St. Kitts and Nevis, the tourism sector is a critical pillar of the economy as it is responsible for as much as 40 percent of the gross domestic product.
Since the pandemic, there has been talk globally about diversifying and moving away from the norms of what is provided to visitors.
Globally, the tourism sector is seen as the major driver of economic growth, jobs and opportunity creation.
This year, revenue projections from travel and tourism are projected to reach US$716B.
“Further, tourism plays a distinctive role in preserving and promoting natural and cultural heritage, which we see as a differentiating factor for our sister islands of St. Kitts & Nevis. In addition, we are aiming to capitalise on trends within the industry, specifically through a newfound focus on ecotourism and sustainability across our tourism sector,” added Minister Henderson.
Tourism officials, including the Minister and the Chief Executive Officer, are optimistic about the outlook for the remainder of the year and the 2022-2023 season.
That comes as the remaining COVID restrictions were lifted, allowing for more travellers with pent-up demand to travel freely to the Federation.
“All hotels on the islands are now open as well. Experiential tours and offerings are now operating at full capacity. Airlift from the US, Canada and the UK will resume for the 2022-2023 season. These travel updates will not only encourage travellers to consider St. Kitts & Nevis for their next trip, but ensure it is top of mind,” noted the Minister.
In order to reach the masses, the St. Kitts Tourism Authority recently launched a new campaign, dubbed ‘Venture Deeper’, to promote the Federation as an authentic, magnetic and soulful destination for visitors.
St. Kitts and Nevis was one of those destinations severely impacted by the COVID pandemic due to the strict measures that were implemented.