As we celebrate ‘World Tourism Day 2019’ under the theme “Tourism and Jobs a Better Future for All”.It is fundamentally important that we recognize the driving forces behind this robust sector. Our visitors and stakeholders are the pillars and cornerstone of the tourism sector. This sector continues to grow and contributes significantly to economies worldwide, amidst the challenges of climate change and other intolerable factors such as downturn in economies in international markets and psychographic changes in travelers preferences, just to name a few. Notwithstanding, the tourism sector is emerging, therefore it affords us opportunities for new developments, innovation, strategies and policies that are sustainable focused, while at the same time meeting the demands and changes within new market segments.
For St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Tourism has proven to be the epitome of progress. The Argyle International Airport stands as one of the catalysts for which both visitors and locals could attest that the industry is on an upward thrust to capitalize from this lucrative sector. Additionally, the deepening diversification of the product offerings hinges on growth.
Moreover, the upsurge in investments by nationals and non-nationals are significant indicators that tourism is a viable option. During the last two years, there has been an acceleration of growth within the tourism sector in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We have seen an increase in hotel expansion and construction. The pending construction of the Marriot Hotel, the Holiday Inn Express, the Royal Mill, the ongoing construction of the Black Sands Resort and the renovation to the Buccament Bay Resort will add another one hundred (100) rooms to the existing room stock within three (3) years. Likewise, the increased number of trained tour guides, frontline staff, taxi operators positioned across the sector, are signs that the tourism industry provides opportunities and benefits to different facets of our society.
Our local statistics reflect consecutive years of growth across all three sector types with increases of 4.4% by Air in 2018 and a further 6.7% over the first seven months of 2019, 11% by yacht for 2018 and a further 7.5 % for the first seven months of 2019 and 25% for 2018 and further 6.4% by cruise for the first seven months of 2019; these figures are very encouraging.
Further, the strategic quest to deepen partnerships between stakeholders has help to optimize the contribution that tourism brings to St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Stakeholders are continually approached and empowered through various platforms such as community consultations, tourism education sessions and tourism training and awareness programs. This partnership offers greater collaboration and helps to cement the fact that every Vincentian at home, and every visitor has a role to play in the development of this ever-changing tourism industry.
Tourism is indeed everyone’s business, and we must continue to live it, love it and embrace it.