Tourism and International Transport outlines plans to ensure growth in visitor arrivals

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, APRIL 17TH2012 (CUOPM) – The Ministry of Tourism and International Transport is a new and innovative ministerial construct designed to promote integration amongst different aspects of development.

Minister with responsibility for those portfolios, Sen. the Hon. Richard “Ricky” Skerritt said the ministry aims to coordinate vital and sensitive economic development infrastructure, public and private investment projects, and government policies which relate closely to the nationa effort to drive the economic transformation objectives forward in the midst of an extremely challenging global economic environment.

The Ministry of Tourism and International Transport has put in place some plans to ensure growth in visitor arrivals and expenditure, said Minister Skerritt, “to facilitate new and ongoing direct capital investment initiatives from local and foreign sources.”

“In so doing, our Ministry will adhere to sustainable tourism best practices and always keep a watchfull eye for opportunities to expand the economic and social benefits of tourism throughout our communities.” noted Senator Skerritt in his message contained in the Estimates for 2012 .

Skerritt added that the policies and programmes that are undertaken by the Ministry are governed by a number of objectives, which include achieve sustainable development in the midst of growth and improvement, improve the Ministry’s customer focus and service quality, develop and facilitate new commercial relationships and grow existing smart partnerships with key stakeholders, locally and internationally and manage financial and other resources and capital assets more efficiently and transparently.

The Minister said that the Ministry will promote the empowerment of individuals and groups in our communities, especially young people, pursue the requirements for global market competitiveness, develop and maintain high quality products and facilities as the base for expanding the tourism sector and promote and establish minimum standards and best practices for customer service as a national culture.

Minister Skerritt noted that globalisation and increased economic pressures have resulted in changes in the way business has to be done, suggesting that moving forward requires smarter work, and more strategic deployment of resources than ever before.

“Success also requires a greater need for knowledge and skill than in the past. The use of appropriate technology and on-going training of key employees is therefore critical,” explained Skerritt

He pointed out that the Federation’s small domestic population and the shoulder months for tourism arrivals of May, September and October, continue to adversely affect the viability of international airlift.

“Establishing and sustaining direct airlift to and from our destination therefore requires innovative government financial investment, including minimum revenue guarantees and other similar agreements. Without adequate airlift, being competitive in key tourism markets would be practically unachievable,” said Minister Skerritt.

He further noted that while the Ministry is cognizant of the current fiscal environment and the need to conserve resources and keep expenditure at a minimum, “we are also mindful that the momentum achieved to date can easily be reversed if we are unable to market our destination competitively, sustain investment in our airlift programme, and finance the maintenance of our Port facilities and other frontline tourism-related assets such as the Pelican Mall, Ferry Terminal and Amina Craft Market.”

“It is in this context that we commit to doing all we possibly can to help achieve government’s fiscal objectives in 2012,” noted Senator Skerritt.

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