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Botanic Gardens gift shop reopens

Botanic Gardens gift shop reopens


Three retirees have breathed new life into the St Vincent and the Grenadines Botanic Gardens gift shop.

The gift shop, which officially closed earlier this year, was reopened on Wednesday, through the collaborative effort of the Friends of the Botanic Gardens and the Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Culture.{{more}}

While speaking at the official opening ceremony, Friends of the Botanic Gardens member Susan Dougan declared that the project was a “labour of love” for herself and fellow retirees, Janke Glass and Kenlyn Alves-George.

“We hope that this is a start to what is going to happen for the botanical gardens. It’s the oldest, as you know in the Western Hemisphere and I think we have a lot incorporated; not only just the flowers, not only just to come and visit and to take a photo, but there are so many things historical about the botanical gardens that we need to get young people engaged and involved,” she said.

Dougan noted that the Kew Gardens in the United Kingdom uses the Botanic Gardens as a nursery and as a result the national site means a lot, not only to Vincentians, but other persons as well.

“We have to look at the educational aspect. It is important for us to get our young people to know the indigenous species, the indigenous plants, all the things around them and of course, the culture and the other aspects of it,” Dougan said.

She also used the opportunity to encourage persons to come visit the gift shop, which will contribute to the tourism product of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Minister of Tourism Cecil McKie declared that the reopening of the gift shop comes at an opportune time, making reference to the recent launch of Tourism Month, as well as the upcoming celebrations in 2015, as the site celebrates its 250th year of existence.

“This involved a lot of persons with different ideas, different skills, thinking outside of the box to come up with this concept and I think that this concept, we would all agree, captures quite nicely the setting in which its placed,” he said.

The Tourism Minister stressed the importance of the facility to St Vincent and the Grenadines, as it is the site that attracts the most visitors during the tourist season.

Because of this, McKie stated that it was important to keep refreshing the tourism product so that the Botanic Gardens can remain on the cutting edge.

“Over the last few years, we would have taken a number of initiatives that allowed us to enhance this facility. In the gardens itself, we have done a number of upgrades. We have looked at the wildlife facilities here and done upgrades there. We have reduced some of the plants that were under threat in the gardens. We have replaced them, planted in new species, we have increased some of the species that we had and we have done spraying in a number of cases where pests and different diseases were attacking the flowers and the plants and of course, we have put in protocol for visitors to the facility and we are putting a new reception area at the lower end of the botanical gardens. All of these initiatives we’re doing so that we continue to refresh the product as I indicated to ensure that the visitor experience is paramount. What we are seeing here today with the reopening of this gift shop is an addition to what we have to offer here and the visitor experience.”

The gift shop is located at the top entrance of the Botanic Gardens and features local art and craft items and a number of other souvenirs. Local food and drink will also be sold at the gift shop. The décor is in keeping with its surroundings, as plants are placed in several areas and the display of carnival costumes serves to visually engage visitors and educate them on a cultural level.