Turtle Bay Beach, St. Kitts – Nevis
Photo By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, Saint Kitts – Nevis
May 19, 2008 (CUOPM)
St. Kitts and Nevis’ Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas says high-end tourism services must be a major component of the new economy following the closure of the sugar industry three years ago.
He also told hundreds of members and supporters attending the 76th Annual Conference of his St. Kitts – Nevis Labour Party at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort and Royal Beach Casino that Kittitians and Nevisians must always have access to the beaches, natural assets and heritage sites.
Dr. Douglas said that the diversification of the economy from sugar agriculture with tourism, financial, information and communication technology and offshore education services is already delivering substantial social and economic benefits to the people of the federation.
“The strategic focus is on the high-end sector of the tourism industry because it does not seem likely that mass tourism can deliver to our people the quality of life that is consistent with our own long-term goals and aspirations as a people. We believe that high-end tourism gives us the opportunity to obtain the best value for the services we offer the world, and creates the value added necessary to support progressive increases in the wages and salaries of our people without undermining the competitiveness of our Federation. High-end tourism services also allow us to earn substantial foreign exchange without having to accommodate large volumes of tourists and to place undue burdens on our social and economic infrastructure and on our fragile eco-system,” said the St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister.
He noted that while many persons associate high-end tourism with exclusivity, the policy of the Government on this issue is very clear and unequivocal and is properly reflected in all development agreements that have been signed to date.
“Our beaches and our natural assets and built heritage sites are the property of our people and every Kittitian and Nevisian must always have adequate access to these assets at all times,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
He said the aim of his Labour Government is to progressively put more money in the pockets of its people so that more and more of them would be able to afford the luxurious facilities and services offered in the Federation, if that is how they wish to spend their money.
“Development is about expanding the freedoms that people enjoy and giving and creating more options for them as they pursue their personal goals and aspirations. It is about empowering people to realize their hopes and ambitions and to secure progressive increases in the quality of their lives,” said Dr. Douglas.
He also reminded the many naysayers including the leadership of the People’s Action Movement (PAM) who predicted that the Royal St. Kitts Marriott Resort would have become the exclusive domain of tourists and other foreigners.
“Today, when you go to this luxurious hotel you will see our people in relatively large numbers enjoying the services and facilities on equal footing with our visitors,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
His government he said expects that as more and more high-end tourism-related projects begin operating, the quality, class and price of the services offered will be significantly enhanced over time.
Dr. Douglas said his government expects that the income, standard of living and capabilities of Kittitians and Nevisians will improve dramatically so that they would have the confidence to stand tall among visitors and foreigners of any class, colour or creed, and to provide world class service without any fear of servitude.
“This issue appears to be major point of departure between the philosophy of the Labour Party Government and that of the People’s Action Movement. The PAM leaders seem to hold the view that certain class of facilities are only for a privileged few. Hence, various functionaries and agents of the PAM have taken to the airwaves to “˜bad talk’ the Kiawah/Auberge Development Project on the Southeast Peninsula on the grounds that our people will be excluded from the use of such facilities. This, of course, is based on the view that certain types of facilities are too good for ordinary people. Indeed, I believe that when they saw the quality and class of the restaurant and beach houses constructed by Auberge Resort at Turtle Bay, they immediately concluded ordinary Kittitian and Nevisians would not qualify to use such facilities,” said the St. Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister.
He said his St. Kitts-Nevis labour Party Government hold strongly to the view that “we do not have “˜ordinary people’ here in St. Kitts and Nevis.” Every Kittitian and Nevisian is special and should have the right to enjoy the very best of what we have to offer here in St. Kitts and Nevis, if they so desire.”
Dr. Douglas said his Labour Party is committed to the view that all the fancy facilities and other trappings of economic growth are meaningless in the context of development unless, over a period of time, people have more spending power and greater capacity to appreciate, enjoy and use such facilities as they pursue and achieve their own personal goals and ambitions.
“That is indeed our mandate ““ to empower more and more of our people and thereby enable them to realistically reach for the highest heights and to attain the goals that they set for themselves,” he said.
He said that the new economy that is now being built will not be based purely on tourism as government does not intend to replace the sugar monoculture that dominated the economic life of St. Kitts and Nevis for so many years with a tourism monoculture.
“We have learnt through our experience in sugar production that it is dangerous to “˜put all of our eggs in one basket.’ We will therefore continue to restructure the economy with a view to creating a diversified and integrated economy with the services sectors, including tourism, financial services, Information and Communication Technology, and offshore education services, as the major contributors to national output but with agriculture, food processing and high value-added manufacturing operations also playing important supporting roles,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
He said St. Kitts and Nevis is today the very envy of the region, the envy of the hemisphere and the world.
“Comrades, there is now a discernible buzz in regional and international forums concerning the continued activities and continued progress in St Kitts and Nevis. Foreign investors are excited about the prospects for investment in our Federation and competing nations have their eyes firmly fixed on the developments here in our Federation. Indeed, St. Kitts and Nevis is now poised to assume a prominent position among the high-end luxury tourist destinations in the world. This is a most remarkable achievement in view of our heavy dependence on sugar production and the absence of viable projects and prospects when Labour assumed office over a decade ago,” Prime Minister Douglas pointed out.