Tourism contributes substantially to the Vincentian economy, and if properly developed and managed, has the potential to make an even greater contribution.
In recognition of this, the New Democratic Party (NDP) will place emphasis on the continued development of the tourism sector in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as it has done in the past.
Over the years, tourism has emerged as a major economic activity that is labour intensive (employment-oriented, and earns significant foreign exchange.
Today, a significant number of people around the globe are employed in the tourism industry. In fact, the rate of employment generation is much higher when compared to most other economic sectors. In the future, the tourism industry is likely to see unprecedented growth in this regard.
That said, we must admit that we have not yet fully developed this lucrative aspect of our economy. The potential for growth is not surprising, since St. Vincent and the Grenadines possesses a wide range of tourist attractions – natural physical beauty, wildlife, beaches, historical attractions (e.g. forts), and a number of unique cultural activities.
The inability of the Unity Labour Party (ULP) administration to develop our full tourist potential is due to ineffective international marketing, inadequate infrastructure, the lack of planning, and the lack of specialized personnel in the tourism industry.
The NDP will solve these problems, driven by the objectives of: increasing employment opportunities at all levels; creating linkages with other (local) economic sectors; and ensuring the protection of our environment and cultural resources.
Moreover, the NDP will position St. Vincent and the Grenadines as leaders in tourism in the Caribbean, by means of the following:
* Diversification of the tourism product: We will identify specific areas and develop strategies to promote and exploit each of them, e.g. diving, yachting, cruise tourism, eco-tourism, retirees/returnees, entertainment/cultural events such as carnival, music festivals, and nine mornings.
* Targeted marketing: Europe, Canada, United States of America and the Caribbean. We will develop special packages for Caribbean tourists, e.g. four-day weekends offered at special rates, especially at off season through collaboration with LIAT and hoteliers.
* Development of marina facilities in Bequia and the Southern Grenadines for power yachts
* Focus on high end stay over visitors: We will promote the development of small to mid-size luxury hotels/villas,
* The establishment of a training institute to meet the needs of tourism operators and workers.
* The encouragement of yachting, especially cruising.
* We will provide better security in our harbours and bays, by frequent coast guard patrols and police patrol in resort and beach areas.
* Improvement of air transportation, in terms of cost reliability and frequency of service to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
* Promotion and development of historical and natural sites as tourism sites.
The NDP will work with the private sector and all relevant stakeholders in developing a cruise tourism policy, which will be focused on manageable numbers, with a fair distribution between all appropriate ports within St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The development of a smaller cruise ship pier in North Leeward will be considered as per its market and financial feasibility.
The NDP sees the improvement and upgrading of Kingstown as an integral part of a successful cruise tourism policy, and will work assiduously in developing a short to medium development strategy towards this end. Also, identification and development of appropriate strategies will be critical to achieving the level of visitor expenditure that will be desirable. Sourcing and availing supplies for cruise ships and encouraging the employment of Vincentian nationals on cruise ships, will be other important thrusts in the NDP’s Cruise Tourism Development Plan.
The global yachting industry is in a state of growth. With an increasing number of persons retiring early, and higher average incomes, there is an increasing amount of leisure time. A greater proportion of that leisure time is now being spent in water-based activity. The growth of the yachting industry is also evident by the growth in the production of pleasure craft and mega yachts. This increase in the number of recreational boats worldwide is creating additional strain on the existing yachting infrastructure, and the demand for marina space is increasing.
The benefits of developing the yachting industry outweigh the costs. Countries are now investing significantly in additional infrastructure, in an attempt to meet the ever increasing demand. St. Vincent and the Grenadines will capitalize on this opportunity for employment creation and foreign revenue generation.
As a nation, we have reached a crossroads where culture is concerned. The way forward must involve the removal of politics from culture. The best and the brightest of St. Vincent and the Grenadines must be invited to the table to ensure that we create a viable, sustainable industry which can usefully contribute to our country’s economy.
Towards this end, the NDP pledges to:
* Retool the National Cultural Foundation (NCF) as an umbrella body which the cultural and creative industries can develop and flourish;
* Create links between culture and tourism to ensure that the cultural industries benefit from the EPA agreement;
* Support music education in schools from the earliest levels, with a view to establishing a Youth Orchestra and permanent music programmes in schools;
* To design training progammes, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, for teachers, with the view of improving the visual arts element in schools;
* Support and encourage the use of information technology to promote the cultural identity of our nation;
* Implement the SVG policy framework and development strategy for cultural and creative industry development;
* Provide fiscal incentives to encourage private sector investment in the music industry, carnival and the performing arts;
* Enforce copyright legislation to protect our local cultural stakeholders.
The programmes and policies advocated here for tourism and cultural development, programmes and policies that will undoubtedly redound in benefits for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, will not see the light of day unless the NDP is elected to government.
Do the right thing. Elect the NDP.