Basseterre, St. Kitts (SKNIS): The potential of Yachting Tourism was highlighted at this week’s 2014 Budget by Minister of Tourism Hon. Richard Skerritt who said it is part of the new wave of tourism sector growth from which residents can benefit over the long term.
“We are aware that the Caribbean is a popular tourism destination for both Land and Cruise Tourism,” stated Minister Skerritt. “The Caribbean Sea is the second most popular region for yachting in the world and St. Kitts and Nevis is blessed to be well positioned geographically with a natural location in the middle of several travel loops already popular in the yachting world.”
Minister Skerritt noted that thanks mainly to the market presence of the Christophe Harbour Project and the government’s efforts at simplifying yacht clearance and other administrative requirements; it is to the country’s benefit that owners of mega yachts and super yachts have recently developed a particular interest in St. Kitts as an ideal destination.
“We are shifting our balance towards the higher value end,” he explained. “So we are going after and attracting the super and mega yachts. Yachts with crews as large as 65 persons now come to St. Kitts for several days each year. …These are unbelievable vessels and luxury yachts are the steadiest sector of the yachting market and this sector continues to demonstrate strong growth even during the international financial crisis. This was the finding of a recent study by Camper and Nicholson a firm which produces quality data and research on the yachting industry. This fact holds well for the future of the yachting sector in St. Kitts and Nevis.”
The Minister stated that St. Kitts and Nevis was visited by 40 yachts without even having facilities to accommodate them. He stated that the new facilities will not only accommodate them but will also uphold high standards.
“The superiority of our yachting product will be based on the experience offered to yachts persons, by the most modern infrastructure and facilities and the quality of the services offered by our genuinely welcoming people,” he explained.
Minister Skerritt added that the sustainability of the product will be based on the protection of society, security, the citizens and the environment. He added that “the bases and objectives of the proposed yachting policy are to develop a varied and high quality yachting experience and service sector which will create a sustainable revenue stream for the country, offer opportunities for locals to invest, generate growth and provide careers, decent work and liveable wages.”
The Tourism Minister stated that the Government will seek to foster full participation by the local and private sector, individual citizens and the communities so as to ensure they are the primary beneficiaries of monies spent by yacht passengers and crew during their visits to St. Kitts and Nevis.
Central to the yachting policy will be the protection of the society, its security, international reputation and natural and built assets.
“The government will therefore take the steps necessary to create a product that is socially, environmentally and economically sustainable and build an even more diversified and food tourism service industry which can benefit our country over the long term.”
Social and cultural sensitivity, safety and security considerations for citizens and yachts persons and maintaining the integrity of the country’s physical borders are critical components of the approach which the government will employ.