Open Letter to the Minister of Tourism, Minister of Health
EDITOR: I am a Cruise and Vacation Specialist in Toronto, Canada, my job is to recommend different and emerging Caribbean ports to clients and so I was excited to spend a day on your island back in January 2020, having not been previously after 26+ cruises!
St Vincent potentially has so much to offer and I was excited to be adding it to my portfolio but, that said, after my time touring the island I was horrified to see the many poor animals wandering around. It was heart-breaking and I couldn’t shake the sadness for the rest of the day …taking it back onboard with me and finding myself chatting to other passengers who were also horrified by the unnecessary suffering they had witnessed.
I found and contacted the Vincentian Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals who seem stretched and already doing all possible with limited resources. I was disappointed to hear there is no Humane Society on the island, no shelter, no governing body to oversee the state of these wandering animals. I returned to my cruise office back in Canada where myself and the other consultants discussed the visit to your island. We are questioning how can we, in good faith and good customer service, suggest to our clients that a visit to St Vincent is a nice island to spend a day on when so many guests came back distraught and upset by the animal suffering they saw.
Tourism is a large part of the Caribbean economy and as the islands work to recover from the loss of tourists due to the Corona pandemic it’s more important than ever that you offer a positive experience. The vast majority of tourists care for animals and are troubled and negatively affected when they see animal suffering and abuse.
Humane animal control is a long term strategy and one that St. Vincent can excel at. It’s not about killing dogs and ‘clearing up the streets’, far from it, improper, cruel animal control would result in disastrous PR and serious harm to the countries tourism. A humane program would gain St. Vincent positive ‘world wide’ publicity and is actually cost effective, every tourist lost because they have been upset by what they saw and didn’t return and don’t recommend the island to others means money lost from the whole economy whether it’s from entry taxes, food purchases, taxi rides etc. What is the point in building beautiful hotels, big airports and other attractions if tourists come away upset from seeing an abused animal, not wanting to return?
As someone in the tourist sector I recognize that St. Vincent has wonderful eco tourism opportunities and humane animal care goes hand in hand with that.
I await your response,
Cruise & Vacation Specialist
Presidents Circle Gold