By Steve Thomas

Observer Nevis Editor

stevethomas@thestkittsnevisobserver

(Basseterre, St. Kitts) –  A new board chairman and a new chief executive officer have been selected to head up the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, according to a government press release.

Mr. Alfonso O’Garro has taken over as the board chairman and Mrs. Rosecita Jeffers is the new CEO. They took over effective Aug. 1.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, Sports & Culture, “Mrs. Jeffers’ appointment comes after an extensive executive search for a new CEO over the past several months. Mrs Jeffers is a University of the West Indies-trained tourism professional who successfully operated her own tourism and special events management business for the past four years. Prior to her entrepreneurial experience, she was a member of the management team at the Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Authority for several years.”

“Mr. O’Garro has a long career in private sector sales management and is the owner of ‘Driftwood’, a successful local chain of duty free shops and a leading wine supplier to hotels and restaurants on St Kitts and Nevis,” according to the release.

Both Mr O’Garro and Mrs Jeffers have been appointed for a period of three years.

The minister responsible for Tourism, Senator Ricky Skerritt, welcomed both appointments and said that they could be seen as further evidence of the Government’s commitment to empowering local people while building a dynamic Tourism Authority which will continue to improve its understanding of the requirements of the tourism marketplace and its varied stakeholders.

This dovetails with statements Minister Skerritt made last month in an interview with TravelMole, an online site for the travel and tourism industry.

In the interview, Minister Skerritt outlined his vision of growth for the St. Kitts tourism industry.

According to a government press release, Minister Skerritt detailed the strategy of ‘synching’ – a move away from the previously dominant sugar trade to a sustainable, responsible tourism industry aligned with a more diverse agricultural policy.

“All the developments currently planned for the island such as Kittitian Hill, Silver Reef and the massive Peninsula plan are all strands in an overall strategy of ensuring luxury, low impact products across the islands,” he said.

“These will help create local jobs, wealth and career paths for many of our citizens.”

Minister Skerritt went further when he said: “All of the developments have as their highest priority low environmental impact and they are all subject to the most rigorous of planning standards. Coupled with this we believe they will all benefit by a resurgent agricultural industry which will allow us to increasingly supply local food and drink.”

St. Kitts is poised to enjoy the predicted growth in ‘authentic’ Caribbean experiences that many of smaller Caribbean islands are concentrating on including wildlife, heritage, culture, sport and of course music.

Friday night ‘liming’ in the newly developed ‘strip’ in Frigate Bay is typical of this new strategy at work. Here there are several bars all serving local food and beer and virtually all with a different flavour of live music most nights of the week.

This type of expansion coupled with the well established culture and heritage sites such as the Brimstone Hill Military Fortress, the scenic cane train, top class scuba diving, not to mention events such as International Cricket and Music, make for a destination looking forward with confidence.

“I am confident that all the pieces of the jigsaw are slowing coming together,” he said.

“We are on the verge of creating a tourism product that will be the envy of the world and one that people will be happy to travel too whatever the route, distance or cost.”