BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, DECEMBER 18TH 2006 (CUOPM)
Expenditure from tourism is expected to surpass EC$300 million for the first time in its history in 2006.
This disclosure has come from Prime Minister Denzil Douglas and Minister of Finance and Tourism, Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas in his 2007 Budget Address in the National Assembly.
Dr. Douglas said the tourism sector has performed well despite major challenges facing the industry and highlighted that the current period is a critical time for making capital out of the opportunity that we had created to become the smallest ever World Cup Cricket venue.
“Much of our expenditure in the Ministry of Tourism, Sports and Culture over the past year has been focused on completing our obligations as a World Cup venue, but also to position our Country as a significant player in the sports, cultural and events tourism business,” said the Prime Minister.He said that the legacy of the World Cup Cricket 2007 is already unfolding, especially since the opening of the multi-million dollar Republic of China-financed Warner Park Cricket Stadium, which is now a premier multi-purpose facility, hosting major sporting, cultural and entertainment events.
“This facility will increasingly become a significant tourist attraction, adding to our tourism product and revenue,” said Dr. Douglas, who added that the importance pf tourism to the St. Kitts and Nevis economy is reflected in its significant contribution to GDP through visitor expenditure, foreign exchange and employment generation.
He said that the Travel and Tourism Industry accounted for 7 percent of GDP in 2005 when defined in terms of businesses directly involved with travel and tourism through hotels and restaurants, but when conceptualized in terms of wider economic impact, through its linkages with other sectors, its economic importance increases to more than 30 percent of GDP.
“Stay-over visitor arrivals have increased by approximately 50 percent since 2003 from 90,000 to the approximately 135,000 arrivals expected for 2006. Cruise arrivals passed the 200,000 mark in 2004 and should not fall below that level again, until it is expected to pass the 300,000 mark in 2008,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
The Prime Minister said that for 2006, total tourist expenditure in the local economy is expected to pass the EC$300 million mark for the first time. “This is a powerful indicator that we are moving in the right direction, but the benefits of the industry’s expansion must be felt more and more through increased private and public sector revenues, expanded cultural and economic linkages and more people empowerment opportunities for the average Kittitian and Nevisian,” said the Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
He said that the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport Expansion Project was completed and a Virgin Atlantic 747 was the first large aircraft to “test out the new parking apron.”
“The recent comments from the captain of the Virgin Atlantic 747 indicated that we have been successful in our efforts to improve our ability to handle larger and more frequent airlift and to welcome the expanding flow of visitors and residents through our international airport,” said Prime Minister Douglas.
Although the tourism sector has been witnessing significant development particularly in the last three years, the Prime Minister noted that sustainability in that sector remains paramount to his St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party Government.
“Sustainability in tourism is a difficult but achievable goal and my Government will leave no stone unturned to include all of the critical ingredients,” said Dr. Douglas who quickly pointed out that “tourism sustainability only comes about through the internalisation of tourism in the minds of our people.”
“Public spiritedness, industry awareness, skills training and education all must play a major part in the internalisation process. My Government’s support for empowerment programmes through entrepreneurial development workshops and seminars, as well as financial support for viable business plans are now well-established,” said Dr. Douglas, who further pointed out that the “comprehensive movement for achieving positive and productive attitudes as a powerful tool for tourism sustainable development is the responsibility of all of us.”
Prime Minister Douglas said that the reputation of St. Kitts and Nevis “for a genuine, careing people and for cleanliness, safety, natural beauty and a colourful history must be protected and preserved by all citizens.”