Moving into 2019 with optimism
AS WE MOVE into 2019, Vincentians have every reason to be optimistic about the future. Certainly, we have our fair share of problems – violent crime; a sluggish economy; roads and public infrastructure in dire need of repair; and unemployment, especially among the young. But at the same time, the Vincentian reality provides us with ample evidence that there are sufficient positives upon which we can build, in order to forge a future that reflects the creativity, resilience, and capacity of our people to make our world anew.
We are certainly very pleased, and all Vincentians should be justly proud of the emergence of a new breed of professional performing artistes exemplified by people like Rodney Small, Darron Andrews, Jomoro Francis, Sean Sutherland, Juanita Phillips and Kiokya Cruickshank. Moreover, because this new breed of professionals are so young, their emergence heralds a long future where they can continue to hone their skills and experiment with zest across a range of expressions – the pan, the violin, the piano, dance, voice – all while remaining alert to the changing technologies which have revolutionized their areas of expertise. In this respect, we believe that this New Year would continue to witness the advancement of Vincentian performing arts in ways that would bring us joy.
Vincentians should also be strongly optimistic about our tourism product. A successful tourism industry needs three things.
First of course is the means to bring people to our beautiful country. It is now established beyond a doubt that our long travails in building Argyle International Airport were worth it. We now have speedy and strong connections between St Vincent and North America, our principal source of tourists. And we are now reasonably hopeful that we can open up one flight from Europe as well.
The second element is of course hotel capacity. With the Buccament Resort being reopened under new management, and the attractive Liming recently opened on Bequia; with the government having secured $135 million XCD to build a new hotel at Mt Wynne, and other private sector hotels either being under construction or renovation, we now have a wonderful platform for increasing our capacity to host visitors to our country.
The third element is our ability to entertain our guests, and indeed our performing artistes, coupled with our fascinating land and sea scape provide means through which our Vincentian hospitality can be enhanced. We are also mindful that all Vincentians have a heightened sense that we need to be secure from those misguided ones who might do us harm. We are therefore appreciative of a newly appointed Commissioner of Police who has demonstrated a capacity to listen, be inclusive and take new ideas on board in our fight against crime. This is surely a time when we need all hands on deck. No one has a monopoly on good ideas and a broader based community wide effort to provide safety to residents and visitors is something we believe the Commissioner must continue in this New year.
Perhaps the most interesting change for this New Year would be the government’s effort to grow and manage the medical marijuana industry. The die is already cast. The legislation is in place.
Success is now contingent on our willingness to seize the opportunities this provides us for economic growth and avoid the pitfalls of drug abuse. Precisely because we are engaging in these conversations in a transparent fashion, we do have confidence that we can succeed in this our most courageous effort to transform a once upon a time criminal product in to a legal product.
It would be remiss of us not to serenade our young scholars and professionals who are excelling here at home and across the world, and in whose hands the future of our country lies. We are confident that the best and the brightest would live up to their ambitions. We are equally confident that even though too many of our youngsters have gone astray, the vast majority of our young people are on the right path to enhance their lives and the welfare of our country. Let us move forward with positivity.