Development Bank supports environmentally friendly Segway Tours

Mr Vaughn Richards (left) gives instructions on how to use a Segway to Mr Tavu Sargeant. Looking on is Deputy Comptroller of Customs, Mr Georid Belle.

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS (January 21, 2013) — When husband and wife team of Vaughn and Cleopatra Richards visited St. Lucia recently, they experienced a novel way of sightseeing and decided that St. Kitts, with its growing tourist numbers, could greatly benefit from a similar venture.

On Saturday December 22, last year, a new company Sugar City Adventures was officially launched at a ceremony held on Wilkin Street in Basseterre that left many in the Village area marvelling at what their country had to offer. Mr and Mrs Richards had kept their word and what they experienced in St. Lucia was now available in St. Kitts.

The company is offering what they call Segway Tours, and locals and visitors alike would have seen those sleek two-wheeled machines on display during this year’s Carnival Grand Parade when four Sugar City Adventures staffers snaked their way through the streets of Basseterre on the Segway machines.

According to Mrs Richards, after they tried them in St. Lucia, her husband woke up the next morning and announced that he had a big idea. The idea was that they should offer Segway machines in St. Kitts. She notes: “I did not take him seriously but he kept pestering me about it and I am happy now that I took the suggestion.”

Rev Canon Isaiah Phillip tries out one of the Segway machines. Instructing him is Mr Hasani Browne.

She did her research and the first thing that she found out was the fact that the machines were quite expensive. But after satisfying herself that it was a business venture that would add value to St. Kitts’ tourism product, she approached the Development Bank of St. Kitts and Nevis for funding.

Credit Risk Analyst 1 at the Development Bank, Ms Tamara Herbert, is the officer who handled Mrs Richards’ case and according to her, she too did research on the Segways and found out that they were exactly what the client had said. However, what impressed her most was the fact that they are environmentally friendly.

“The Segway is modernised; cutting edge technology,” says Ms Herbert. “It is an alternative for the tourists as they could have something else to use rather than ATVs (four-wheeled motorised bikes) especially on trail visits. They are environmental friendly as they are battery powered and will do very little damage to the environment on country side trails unlike the larger ATVs. They are also user friendly.”

Ms Herbert also spoke to the fact that the new company, Sugar City Adventures, would create employment at a time when jobs are not easy to come by. So important was the venture to the Development Bank that General Manager Mr Lenworth Harris was among those who attended the launch of the new company. Other persons of high standing in the society attended the function, including Rev Canon Isaiah Phillip who tried out one of the machines.

A team from Sugar City Adventures showcases Segway machines during this year’s Carnival Grand Parade – all pictures courtesy Mrs Cleopatra Richards

Sugar City Adventures has twelve Segway machines, which Mrs Cleopatra Richards says are very easy to use. A Segway is a two-wheeled self balancing personal transporter that is activated by the sensors on the floor of the machine itself.

“When your feet rest on it, you use your body weight to either go forward or go backwards,” explains Mrs Richards. “There are sensors at the top of your feet and at the back of your feet. You want go backwards, you just lean back on your heels. If you want to go forward you just go forward on your toes.”

The company offers three scenic tours, namely the Sugar Lands Tour (two hours), Fortlands Tour (90 minutes) and Beach Lime Tour (90 minutes). Refreshments are offered on the Sugar Lands Tour and Fortlands Tour, while lunch is offered on the Beach Lime Tour.

“All our tours are guided tours,” says Mrs Richards. “We have twelve bikes and we can accommodate ten people at a time. So if a group of ten comes in, then we have two tour guides that will take that group of ten out. If it is a group of five for instance, or under, then one tour guide will take them. But anything above five customers, we use two tour guides.”

The guides offer instructions on how to operate the Segway machines but if a client does not adhere to what he or she has been instructed, the guide has a programme key which he would use to shut down the machine.

“As fun as it is, the Segway has the potential to cause some serious damage, like any other personal transporter, and we insist that riders must wear protective helmets,” says Mrs Richards. “But it is really easy. We have had kids on Saturdays that have been using the machines and they have been doing a good job.”

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