UK Travel Media Enthused About St. Kitts as Success of New British Airways Route Celebrated

Senator Skerrit

London, July 9 2010: The success of the twice-weekly British Airways Gatwick service to St. Kitts was a cause for celebration during a high-profile visit to London by Senator Richard Skerritt, Minister of Tourism and International Transport for St. Kitts & Nevis. The six-day visit, 30 June – 6 July, was intended to further cement the special partnership which the Government of St Kitts & Nevis has forged with British Airways and to raise the profile of this emerging Caribbean destination amongst UK tourism industry partners.

At a strategic review meeting at BA’s Waterside Head Office on Wednesday 30th June with BA route planning decision-makers, Senator Skerritt discussed route performance issues with Richard Tams, Head of UK & Ireland Sales and Marketing, Alison Nicholls, Business Development Manager, and their support team. Discussions highlighted the current state of the slowly recovering UK travel market and the relative strength of the St. Kitts route, making it the fastest growing Caribbean service for the airline with encouragingly strong forward bookings.

Minister Skerritt, said, “The early success of the St. Kitts route, including the midweek Tuesday service which was launched only three months ago, has exceeded our best expectations. This UK airlift success to date, and the optimism coming from all of the British Airways officials and the travel media who I met, is fantastic news for a small island nation like St. Kitts & Nevis in such a challenging economic environment. These results should provide the platform to encourage all of our stakeholders to nurture new and existing partnerships in the UK market, while undertaking new initiatives at home going forward. We look forward to maintaining this special partnership with British Airways long into the future.”

Richard Tams, Head of UK & Ireland sales, said: “We are delighted at the continued success of the St. Kitts route, especially with the second service we introduced three months ago. St. Kitts is a very popular destination and forward bookings look very encouraging, which is testament to the attraction of the island.”

The new BA route has sparked growing interest in St. Kitts as a holiday destination from media professionals who met with Minister Skerritt in one on one interviews during the course of his visit, to find out what makes St. Kitts so special as an authentic Caribbean destination. Media were enthused with details of the island’s emerging high quality product, existing key attractions, its natural and unspoilt beauty, genuine hospitality and the overall holiday experience afforded to visitors to St. Kitts & Nevis.

Minister Skerritt also took the opportunity to hold discussions with BA and the media on the troubling subject of the UK Air Passenger Duty (APD), speaking about the growing concern at its likely negative effect on visitors planning to travel to St Kitts, and its anticipated harmful impact on the Caribbean tourism economy as a whole. Skerritt told the UK media interviewers that, in his opinion, the fairest short term solution would be to reband the entire Caribbean into the same tax category as Bermuda and Florida, while working to restructure or remove the tax completely in the long term.

The Tourism Minister’s visit to the UK market concluded with an informal cocktail event held on Monday 5 July, at London’s OXO Tower Restaurant organised jointly by the London office of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority (SKTA) and British Airways, and attended by representatives of British Airways, other UK based stakeholders and travel media.

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