The government does not know as yet the airiness that are interested in flying to Argyle International Airport, which is expected to become operational by the middle of next year.
“We expect that we would have a number of airlines that would begin flying into St. Vincent and the Grenadines when the facility is commissioned. We don’t have the exact names as yet, that discussion is continuing and to see what type of arrangement, because, of course, there are different types of arrangements that can be arrived at,” Minister of Tourism Cecil “Ces” McKie told the media on Thursday, after Cabinet toured the airport, which is scheduled to be completed by year end.
McKie, however, said St. Vincent and the Grenadines arguably has the most diverse tourism product.
“And I think we have to use that to our advantage and I think the airlines have recognised that, and therefore they are discussing with us the possibility of flying to the destination,” McKie said.
He said a number of airlines have “come in” from the United Kingdom and North America, “and we are completing visit from other airlines”.
“They have indicated an intense interest in flying to the destination, but, of course, we have to look at all the ramifications to let them come and see for themselves what possibilities exist here, because a lot of them don’t want short-term arrangements; they are looking for medium to long term arrangements, and therefore we have to bring them here and have the necessary discussions with them,” McKie said.
McKie, however, noted that SVG has over the past few years received several tourism and travel awards from the international media.
“… the destination is out there, but there is always more that we can do to attract attention to the destination and also to encourage Vincentians out there to spread the word,” the minister further said.
McKie further told the media that hotel space “is one of our greatest challenges” even as he said the airport is expected to result in increase visitor arrivals.
“… we certainly don’t have the capacity if a number of the airlines or a number of the airlines descend on us in short time, and that is why the ministry, the Tourism Authority, as well as the Prime Minister himself, we have offered the local operators, the local stakeholders, and we have put it open to the world, come and invest in St. Vincent and the Grenadines; local operators, expand your units, collaborate in terms of establishing new facilities.”
He said the government has offered to be a partner in such investment and had “a number of interest and interest groups to examine what is possible here”.
“And I think we also have some indication that we have some investors coming to look at the possibilities in the near future as well,” McKie said.