BASSETERRE, St. Kitts, December 18, 2019 (Press Unit in the Office of the Prime Minister) – The tourism sector in St. Kitts and Nevis continues to play a vital role in the overall development of the twin island Federation, as it is recognized as one of the largest contributors to gross domestic product (GDP) and the sector responsible for the greatest employment figures in the country.
Making his contribution to the 2020 Budget Debate in the National Assembly, Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Lindsay Grant, said that the contribution of the tourism sector to the growth and development of the Federation is “obvious and measureable” as the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), in its 2019 Economic Impact Report for St. Kitts and Nevis, stated that the total contribution of travel and tourism to the GDP in 2018 was US$634.5 million, representing 62.4 percent of GDP.
“Directly and indirectly, tourism provides approximately 15,000 jobs or 59.9 percent of total employment in St. Kitts and Nevis. Mr. Speaker, this is a clear indication that the strategies for tourism infrastructure and product development, as well as marketing strategies being implemented by this Team Unity Government have been successful in yielding positive and impactful results,” the minister added.
The Honourable Lindsay Grant anticipates another year of significant growth for 2019. Speaking specifically to airlift, Minister Grant said that from January through October 2019, St. Kitts and Nevis recorded a system wide increase of 7.8 percent.
“For the month of February alone Mr. Speaker, arrivals increased 20.7 percent system wide and 25.6 percent [increase] from North America over 2018—that is what we are doing in 2019, moving the country along in the right direction. Further Mr. Speaker, we topped last year’s record by increasing June’s system wide airlift arrivals by an additional 6.8 percent in 2019, of course driven by the phenomenal influx of travelers to attend the 2019 St. Kitts Music Festival,” the minister reported.
With respect to the cruise sector, the honourable minister reminded the nation that St. Kitts welcomed a million cruise passengers for the first time during the 2017-18 cruise season and repeated this historic feat for the 2018-19 cruise season.
Minister Grant indicated that they expect to eclipse the million cruise passenger mark again for 2019-2020 season, adding, “We are the only destination in the OECS [Organization of Eastern Caribbean States] that can give you a million passengers, but not only a million passengers but a million passengers back to back to back.”
To keep this momentum in the tourism sector, the honourable minister outlined developmental plans that will commence in the upcoming year with a focus on capacity building, customer service excellence, product enhancement and expansion and destination stewardship.