Listed among the meeting’s objectives were; recognition of benefits of collaborating as a strategy for the continued development of our tourism industry, which has seen significant and steady increases in cruise passenger arrivals to St. Kitts’ Port Zante, the prioritization of marketing strategies and challenges that need to be addressed and the adaptation of initiatives that would provide the platform and framework for further collaboration.
Chairman of the Hotel & Tourism Association Mr. Nick Menon said the meeting of the three tourism bodies was long overdue and it augurs well for a unified strategy in promoting both destinations. He explained that the HTA had for some time been requesting such a meeting of the minds, to discuss resources related issues.
Chairperson of the Nevis Tourism Authority, Keisha Jones expressed hope that this historic gathering becomes a regular feature on the broad tourism agenda. She stated that “there is a clarion call for unity amongst the three bodies since we are working towards the same gold. It also demonstrates unprecedented opportunity for the twin island federation to claim its place on the world stage and create more prosperity for its citizens.”
According to the Chairman of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, Mr. Alphonso O’ Garro, a major challenge for the destination is to remain viable in the market place, especially in these tough economic times where there is less revenue to spend on marketing. Mr. O’Garro emphasized the need for greater collaboration between the three organizations as it relates to financing, marketing and promotional activities that would increase our visibility regionally and internationally. He is convinced that Thursday’s meeting begins a more consistent collaboration among the organizations for the greater benefit of the two destinations.
Due to the persistent economic recession and financial crisis, small hoteliers insist that occupancy continues to decline. They also blame airlift and high taxes on tickets to and from the islands as another contributing factor to reduced bookings at their hotels.
Currently, American Airlines, Delta, US Airways, British Airways, Air Canada, American Eagle and LIAT fly regular direct flights into Robert L Bradshaw International, the main gateway to the federation. American operates a weekly flight out of JFK, New York and a daily flight from Miami. Delta flies weekly from Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International, US Airways operates a weekly flight from its home base in Charlotte North Carolina, British Airways operates a twice weekly flight from Gatwick, London, while Air Canada operates a weekly flight from Toronto. American Eagle has daily flights from San Juan and LIAT operates numerous flights daily from various parts of the Caribbean.
Meantime, the CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority Mrs. Rosceita Jeffers revealed that efforts to improve visitor arrivals to the federation during the off season will soon intensify with television advertisements on two US Cable networks, namely Bravo and E! This news was welcomed by members of the HTA who are hoping this would assist greatly to increase their occupancy figures during the months of May to October.