SIDF pumped EC$154 million in 10 key areas of St. Kitts and Nevis, says CEO Crossman

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MAY 31ST 2012 (CUOPM) – The Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) has seen its asset portfolio grown from EC$17.6 million in 2007 to EC$139.8 million in 2010.

This disclosure has come from foundation’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Terrance Crossman.

Speaking at the formal launching of its Office, Mr. Crossman said some EC$154 million or US$ 55 million has been invested in the creation of a sustainable, diversified economy by way of grants, loans and share holdings.

He said that the Foundation has to date funded development in ten key areas as follows:

Tourism $22,616,709.35

Resort Development $22,615,624.42

Electricity $21,803,912.40

Agriculture $13,397,516.11

Investments $11,000,000.01

Construction $11,000,000.00

Training $10,238,704.01

Arts & Culture $3,100,000.00

Education $2,500,000.00

Sports $,438,852.94

In addition budget support has been given to Government in the amount of $32,017,505.59

He said tourism has become the main service industry and the most important economic activity.

“Ongoing enhancement and strategic marketing of the tourism product have contributed to the popularity of St. Kitts and Nevis as a destination. With rising fuel costs and increased security regulations making travel expensive and frustrating for passengers, efforts must be made to ensure that visitors to St. Kitts, particularly by of airlifts, have an experience that surpasses expectations from the moment the aircraft lands. Additionally, in order to attract increasing traffic to St. Kitts and Nevis, the destination must be marketed widely at international trade shows and expositions,” said Mr. Crossman.

He said the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation is committed to ensuring that St. Kitts and Nevis remains ahead of the competition.

“Four tourism-related projects have so far been funded in the total amount of $22,616,709.35. This figure represents 14.8% of the total investment of the Foundation to date. The four projects are in the areas of Airlift Support, Reconfiguration of Waving Gallery at the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport, Shanghai Trade Exposition and the Small Hotel and Restaurant Modernization Fund,” said Mr. Crossman

He said that the increasing number of visitors who are attracted to the destination, the expansion of the tourism industry and ancillary services, and the increasing importance of tourism to the social and economic development of the island, demand a reliable air transport service.

The SIDF has partnered with the St. Kitts Tourism Authority to secure airlifts from the United Kingdom and North America.

“Since 2009, the Foundation has contributed EC$3,780.000 annually to the St. Kitts Tourism Authority’s Marketing Fund to ensure our United Kingdom source market is serviced by British Airways. Additionally, in 2010 the SIDF provided assistance totaling EC$4,320,000 to ensure that the American Airlines service from our main US markets, Miami and New York, continued without interruption,” said the SIDF CEO.

He added that the economic impact of this project has been significant, particularly in relation to airlifts from the United States and the United Kingdom markets.

“Despite the global economic downturn, partly because of the subsidy, airlift to the Federation has not been affected despite closing of operation in some markets for some major airlines. It is important to point out that the airlift support to secure American Airline flights from the US directly benefits the local population. Just imagine not being able to fly directly to New York and Miami to visit family and, of course, shop,” said Mr. Crossman.

He said the reconfiguration of Waving Gallery at Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport is a key component of the overall visitor experience as first and final impressions are often lasting.

“The Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) contributed EC$75,000 to the St. Christopher Air and Sea Ports Authority (SCASPA) to reconfigure the waving gallery at the airport thus expanding the emigration and security areas. This change created a more comfortable environment and accelerated the departure process for passengers,” said Mr. Crossman.

He noted that with the emphasis on services as the new engine of economic growth, it is crucial that St. Kitts and Nevis be promoted to the world as a trading partner with an attractive investment potential. Thus a grant of EC$197,454.34 from the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) was allocated to the St. Kitts Investment Promotion Agency (SKIPA) making it possible for the Federation to participate in the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, The People’s Republic of China.

Thirteen CARICOM countries participated in the exposition, which ran for six months, from May to October. The expo carried the theme “Better City, Better Life” and was an opportunity for the Federation to showcase its culture and heritage with the expectation of piquing the interests of both investors and visitors.

The SIDF he said remains committed to the transformation of the Federation’s economy from a sugar-based to a services economy. In its goal to promote and support the tourism and hospitality industry and support, the Foundation has made a significant investment in small hotel development.

Under the Small Hotel and Restaurant Modernization Fund, the SIDF has allocated loan funding in the sum of EC$8,064,600.00 to the St. Kitts and Nevis Hotel and Tourism Association (HTA) for the purpose of refurbishing and modernizing their small hotel and restaurant properties.

“The funds have been placed at the St. Kitts and Nevis Development Bank. Small hotels with under 100 rooms such as Sugar Bay Club, Timothy Beach Resort, Frigate Bay Resort, Ottleys Plantation, Ocean Terrace Inn, Rawlins Plantation can benefit,” said Mr. Crossman.

SIDF funds are also financing the 5-star luxury resort and high-end residential development at Kittitian Hill, now under construction on 400 acres of gently sloping hillside in the village of St. Paul.

The completed facility will include an ultra luxury spa; 90 one-bedroom hotel cottages; 69 three and four-bedroom luxury villas; and a 74-room boutique hotel situated in the heart of an 18-hole golf course.

“In light of the high level of corporate social responsibility required and the emphasis on community involvement and empowerment as well as training of local employees, the Foundation decided to become a part financier of the Kittitian Hill Development. The total investment is valued at EC$22,615,624.42 making the Foundation 90.0% share owner in of Belmont Resorts Ltd. the parent company,” said the CEO.

Pointing out that the provision of reliable and efficient electricity is an important part of the government’s policies and plans for the socio-economic development of the Federation, Mr. Crossman noted that in a modern society where there is almost total reliance on electricity as a source of energy, the generation of power must be a high agenda item.

“In recognition of the need to provide a stable and reliable supply of energy the Foundation contributed a loan of EC$11,645,282.40 for the purchase of two 3.9 megawatts generators,” said Mr. Crossman.

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