The rise of the Vincentian Staycation
STAYCATIONS HAVE BEEN on the rise in developed countries for many years, but it may just have taken the coronavirus pandemic for this particular mode of vacationing to take root in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
A staycation is defined as a holiday spent in one’s home country rather than abroad, or one spent at home which involves day trips to local attractions.
When we think of vacations, Vincentians traditionally look northward, but over the last few months, our people have been grounded, confined to the 150 square miles that make up our multi-island nation. This has forced us to look inward and assess that which we have with new and curious eyes.
When other countries shut their borders and airlines stopped flying, not only were we stuck on our 32 islands and cays, but neither could we welcome guests to our shores. This caused tremendous disruption to the economy, as the tourism sector has long surpassed agriculture and industry in terms of contribution to our gross domestic product.
The coronavirus pandemic forced many hotels and guesthouses to shut their doors and send home staff. Operators of sea and land tours also quickly saw business dry up with bookings being cancelled by clients under stay at home orders in Europe and North America.
Now, even as countries cautiously reopen after many months of lockdowns, long distance travel is still considered risky. But humans are social creatures and are looking for safe ways to return to some semblance of normal life.
People who ordinarily looked overseas for vacation have been looking inward… and finding that the local tourism product is the custodian of the most delightful treasures.
The rise of the Vincentian staycation comes as traditional hospitality sector operators have been forced, because of their empty rooms, to pay more attention to the local market, looking at how their product, services and rates could be modified to better attract the local market. Many properties which in the past, grudgingly welcomed locals, are now actively courting residents with staycation specials, day passes and family specials.
At the same time, consumers who traditionally spent their vacations outside of St Vincent and the Grenadines, but were forced to stay at home, have been yearning to get out of the house and experience something new. We have seen a rise in small operators offering eco-tourism adventure tours as well as visits by families to nature trails, historic and recreation sites on the islands.
Staycations provide an opportunity for people to rethink vacations – especially those interested in experiences and in outdoor activities. And where outdoor activities are concerned, St Vincent and the Grenadines has much to offer.
The pandemic has created a revival of creative holiday making nearer to home, with significant benefits for the local economy.