Richards has expressed his concerns that “Less and less tourists are coming to St. Kitts & Nevis, at a time when more is expected of tourism, when there has been a decline in all other sectors”.
“The great excitement about our cruise passenger visitors’ numbers seeks to camouflage the stark reality that revenue from that sector has not been commensurate, “ outlined Richards on Sunday 30th September, minutes after being ratified as his party’s new leader.
As he focused on the state of the national economy, Richards told his supporters that the domestic economy contracted by 2.7% this year, as it has done for the past five years, and as it continues to be plagued by declines in the construction sector and distributive trades.
He warned that this underperformance is in very real danger of becoming a permanenet feature of Kittitian reality. The constituency Number Five Representative in the National Assembly, said though tourism is projected to grow by 5.9% it is highly unlikely to do so. He cautioned the government about the need to resist the temptation to constantly put a gilded finish on the failures of the country.
It is the argument of Richards that the double digit increase in cruise ship visitors has not given a corresponding rise in output from that sector. As far as he is concerned, the government is in danger of confusing arrivals with results. As a note of caution, he added that if visitors are spending less, then there is a problem. “And they are spending less; less on accommodation, less on transportation and less on meals and drinks. In fact most of them are not even getting off the ship,” opined the Sandy Point Parliamentarian.
Government must lead the way in finding ways to increase greater spending, rather than simply stating that increases will come, challenged Mr. Richards. Instead of making pronouncements, said the PAM leader, more effort is needed to develop actual strategies and policies that would lead to greater visitor spending so that all sectors of the economy can benefit.
These are some of the issues that will no doubt be included in the deliberations of private and public sector stakeholders when the Caribbean Tourism Conference is held at the St. Kitts Marriott in Frigate Bay, from 10th – 12th October. The event is being held under the auspices of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, CTO, which is currently headed by the St. Kitts & Nevis Minister of Tourism & International Transportation, Richard Skerritt. However Skerritt’s term is due to end on Wednesday next week when a new CTO Chairman is to be elected.
Instead of looking after the affairs of the economy, Richards claims that the Labour Government and its leader in particular, Dr. Denzil Douglas, seems to be more concerned with looking after his friends – not the people.
This is why, said Richards, his party, under his new leadership, will challenge the Prime Minister every single day of the week.