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Future looks bright for tourism in SVG

Future looks bright for tourism in SVG

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Tourism Week message from Minister Hon. Glen Beache

My fellow Vincentians, despite the adverse setbacks internationally over the past few years, tourism in St. Vincent and the Grenadines continues to fare relatively well – an indication of the resilience of this important industry and the importance of our niche markets. I say relatively well for the simple reason that no matter how much one accomplishes there is always room for improvement. In this year’s tourism week, the Ministry of Tourism, Youth and Sports’ intention is to make all Vincentians more aware of the importance of the Tourism sector to our small and beloved country. Compared to many other countries, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is still relatively new to the tourism industry. Instead of looking at this negatively, we must embrace it and take advantage of this situation. We must learn from the mistakes our competitors have made, and make sure we do not travel the same road.{{more}}

“SVG – Home of Hospitality” is the theme used for tourism week 2006. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is known all over the world for its people and the hospitality we provide. At a time when our tourism product is holding its own in an increasingly competitive industry, we as Vincentians need to make sure that we do not drop the ball. Being good is simply not good enough in today’s world, and due to this fact we need to make sure that we are exceptionally better than our competition in every way. This is not only applicable to our visitors and potential visitors, but also to the service we provide to fellow Vincentians.

I have traveled throughout most of St. Vincent and the Grenadines since becoming the Minister of Tourism, Youth and Sports and have heard first-hand what many stake holders in the Tourism industry believe can be done to improve our Tourism product. While many of them make valid points, we as Vincentians must also realize the maturing and development of our product will take time. I am proud to state that as the Minister of Tourism under this administration, the future of Tourism does look bright in St. Vincent an the Grenadines. Over the past five years the Ministry of Tourism has received more financial resources from the Government than at any other time in our history. This confidence in the sector has been rewarded by an increase in tourist expenditure moving from approximately EC $201 million in 2001 to approximately EC $289 million in 2005. Along with the increase in Tourist expenditure over the past five years, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is one of only three English speaking Caribbean countries to register an increase in cruise ship calls for the 2006/2007 season. For the very first time in the history of SVG, the Blue Moon Cruise Ship will make calls to port Kingstown and Mayreau every Tuesday and Thursday respectively until 2008. Royal Caribbean, one of the largest Cruise ship lines in the world will also be making its inaugural call in late March of 2007. This inaugural call of Royal Caribbean is not only important due to its physical size as a company, but after the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, they are arguably the largest employees of Vincentians.

Over the next five years, the government will spend approximately EC $100 million on sports and sporting infrastructure throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Accordingly sports tourism has and will become an even bigger part of our versatile product. Tourism and sports have always been interrelated and complementary. Both of these are powerful forces for development, stimulating investment in infrastructure projects such as airports, roads, stadiums, sports complexes, hotels and restaurants-projects that can be enjoyed by all Vincentians, as well as visitors who come to use them. And once the infrastructure is in place, these two mutually beneficial industries of tourism and sport will become a motor for sustainable economic growth in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with the creation of employment and generation of revenues. But at the same time, they are activities that bring people together and help forge strong personal relationships.

One of our biggest strengths in tourism has been our marine products, i.e. diving and yachting to be specific. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the number one sailing and yachting destination in the OECS, yet we do not reap as many benefits from this sector as we should. The Ministry is looking at this market and seeing what new and creative ideas we can come up with to reap the benefits from it.

Tourism’s benefits are much more far reaching than simply dollars and cents. It provides a bridge to mutual understanding and peace amongst nations and is a powerful driver for development in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

While some of the most obvious impacts of tourism are the long term economic benefits, it’s also an industry providing a vehicle for investment in preserving culture and natural heritage.

Vincentians are the lifeline of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with tourism being the assistant. Let us make sure that SVG is truly the “Home of Hospitality”, and not only to the visitor to our shores, but also to each other. May the Lord continue to bless our nation, and may we have a successful and safe tourist season.

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