BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - OFFICIALS at the St. Kitts Tourism Authority are absolutely ecstatic about the Federation seeing the start of cruise arrivals creeping up to the pre-pandemic levels.
Since the Federation had removed many of the COVID-19 restrictions for entry into the Federation back in August, Tourism and Government officials were optimistic about the outlook for both the cruise and stay-over numbers.
Their expectations are being met, at least in the cruise sector, with a number of ship days seeing three, four and five vessels docking.
Goldha Franks, Product Development Manager in the St. Kitts Tourism Authority (SKTA) spoke to the arrivals of the vessels and buzz cruise activities for this week.
“The St. Kitts Tourism Authority is ecstatic about this week’s buzz cruise activity. Buzz cruise activity symbolises our people’s invaluable contribution to the overall economic development, to showcase the beauty, rich history, vibrant culture and experiences the destination has to offer,” she told reporters at Port Zante on Wednesday (Dec. 7).
St. Kitts and Nevis, like many other Caribbean territories, is dependent on tourism and cruise arrivals. Much of that was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent mitigation measures.
Many vessels were left in the cold because of their high COVID-19 numbers earlier this year and threatened not to return, but Tourism Minister Marsha Henderson recently underscored the importance of a recent trip to hold discussions with cruise partners that mended any fences that were broken.
The SKTA is now thankful to all of its stakeholders as officials move to sure-up the remainder of the 2022/2023 season, which is in its early days.
“We are perpetually grateful for the sustained partnerships with our associate cruise partners and their continued support as we strengthen our presence across various itineraries,” Franks said.
She noted that the SKTA is looking forward to continued growth in the sector during the season.
Commencement of the Cruise Season in the Federation coincides with the start of the Christmas/Carnival period, and the Product Development Manager confirmed that they are infusing the season into their plans when they approach the cruise lines.
“We are also pushing the Carnival/Tourism Product to ensure that our visitors, internationally and stay-over visitors, are aware that we have Carnival during this time of year and also when stakeholders and our visitors come on the cruise ships,” Franks noted when asked by SKNVibes News about the promotion of Carnival during the Cruise Season to the cruise lines.
She added that passengers are always encouraged to embrace the culture and walk the streets during Parade Day and J’ouvert to enjoy the Carnival product.
But even as the SKTA is expressing confidence in the arrival of vessels, they must be wary of the triple threat in one of its major source markets: the United States, where the RSV, Flu and COVID-19 are all on the rise.
The Prime Minister, Dr. Terrance Drew, recently acknowledged the possibility of the triple threat and lamented that health officials would keep a close watch of the developments in the United States with the possibility that many people would want to leave the country and enjoy the warm weather.
“We are looking closely at the RSV and Monkeypox as well. So we have our surveillance with respect to those. So we are keeping ahead of the curb,” Dr. Drew told SKNVibes News.