By Loshaun Dixon
Basseterre, St. Kitts-The Ministry of Tourism is making strides to persuade Federation visitors to stay over and wants to increase the number by 50 percent in the years to come.
Tourism Minister the Hon. Lindsay Grant said he is hoping to make the gains before he leaves the office and gave his thoughts on how it could be done.
Mr. Grant said he was not looking for the growth in tourism through the cruise industry but rather is aiming for improvements in relation to stay over visitors.
“We have been flat over the last five years at about 125,000 passengers,” he said. “We need to move that needle upwards and my aim before I leave the office is to grow that by at least 50 percent since the real money is in stay overs.”
He added that the Marina at Christophe Harbour is significant because of the kinds of clientele it will attract.
“It is the kind we want in St. Kitts. Those who have money and a large disposable income to spend on the many attractions that we have in St. Kitts. I think we are moving in the right direction and just have to make sure we keep it steady,” he said.
The Tourism Minister also was confident that the opening of the Park Hyatt Hotel in the spring of this year would have a significant impact on stay over visitors.
“The Park Hyatt has a collection of about four million loyal persons to their brand that will market their brand heavily,” he said.
Grant said that while the government doesn’t have the money to spend on marketing, it can always piggyback on Park Hyatt to showcase brand St. Kitts. That can be significant, he added.
He also gave updates on the retail stores cooperation at Port Zante
He said, “I believe sometimes people need to be nurtured and I believe the store owners, taxi operators and the vendors will begin to understand. I am hopeful once we do that we will get things under control.”
He noted there has not been any significant issues despite the challenges.
“I hope that for the rest of the season all goes well. We must appreciate that right now we are putting numbers and the ground we have no time to deal with idleness. What we have now is a product putting 15,000 people on the ground,” he said.