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SVG tourism seeing signs of recovery

SVG tourism seeing signs of recovery


Despite still experiencing some of the negative effects of the economic recession of 2008, like many other Caribbean countries, St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is continuing to see encouraging signs of recovery.

This, according to Minister of Tourism, Sports and Culture Cecil McKie, who hosted a press briefing on the matter last Tuesday, January 19.

However, McKie was confident that SVG’s recovery will be boosted greatly when the Argyle International Airport (AIA) is fully operational.{{more}}

“We are seeing signs of recovery,” he assured. “Very shortly, we will begin to see other airlines, including international carriers, landing at Argyle. We have to… begin to position ourselves to benefit from what will no doubt be an increase in arrivals…”

McKie pointed out that with the current ET Joshua Airport, air access to SVG continues to be a “serious challenge”, but the AIA will alleviate this significantly.

In terms of arrivals by sea, McKie lauded the increase for the 2015 period – noting that both arrivals by cruise ship and yacht/private vessels had experienced a boost.

He also spoke of development plans to build a larger cruise ship berth at Arnos Vale, which would accommodate larger cruise vessels. In addition to this, there will also be the construction of a 50-yacht marina at the same site.

“That will supplement what is already taking place in the Grenadines, in terms of arrival by yachts, and also allow us to put a little more focus on mainland St Vincent where yacht arrivals is concerned.”

Additionally, McKie spoke about the developmental work that continues at major tourist/attraction sites around the multi-island state, including physical and botanical advancements at the Botanic Gardens, and improvements made to various beaches and their facilities.

The Minister further made mention of the steadily increasing medical education tourism that SVG has been benefitting from; pointing out that over the past decade, four medical schools have been established, with increasing numbers of students.

“This is a new aspect of tourism that we have had to cater for.”

He also noted the recent commencement of the English language learning programme that the Government has embarked upon with the government of Ecuador and the opportunity for more countries to take advantage of said programme.

Additionally, he spoke of the maritime and hospitality training institute, which McKie said that he expects to be “up and running” in the near future.

“We are just doing the finishing touches in terms of the structure itself, and we have already completed the development of the curriculum, which will be administered by the Community College. Petty shortly, we should hear details of that institution being opened and operated, and how it will impact on the whole aspect of standards in St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

Also giving remarks were Andrew Wilson, director of the National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority, and Maxine Browne, Dance Development officer within the Department of Culture.

Wilson spoke on the management of parks and protected areas across SVG, with particular regard to a marine/coastal mapping project (the first of its kind executed locally), designed to help with marine conservation.

He also touched upon the development of community tourism management, and maintenance and development of tourist/attraction sites – with particular regard to the La Soufriere trails and various projects planned for the advancement of the Botanic Gardens.

In her address, Browne spoke of the various cultural and heritage events that are scheduled to take place throughout the upcoming year, including Garifuna Heritage Month, Vincy Mas, Emancipation Month, KCCU Dance Festival and Nine Mornings, among others.

Sporting success on the rise McKie also hailed 2015 as a year of “unparalleled sporting success”, with major achievements across a multitude of sporting disciplines, such as volleyball, taekwondo, tennis, cricket, squash, athletics, swimming and football, among others.

“We had tremendous success throughout the entire year.”

McKie attributed these successes in part to the improvements made to the sporting facilities across SVG through the National Sports Council and other stakeholders.

“We want to ensure in 2016 that we continue to improve on the standards available… and the quality itself… It is in this way that we will encourage our sportsmen and women to further develop.”

Director of the Department of Physical Education and Sports Nelson Hillocks also gave brief remarks, reiterating that 2015 was a very successful year for sports in SVG.

Hillocks said that his department is now planning to further develop sports, not just on the competitive and recreational level, but also in terms of health, by twinning it with the Wellness Revolution to “make all of SVG more active and healthy”, and to reduce the incidence of non-communicable diseases.

He also mentioned fitness and sporting programmes that have been introduced at several schools across SVG, as well as within many business places. (JSV)