Faylene King, chief operations officer for the SVG Tourism Authority, said the 0.8 per cent increase in 2015 overall visitors from the years before caused tourism officials to be “… extremely excited about the spike in visitor arrivals…”. (IWN photo)

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com. 

Amid fears about lower than expected world economic growth, the best travel news for 2015 turned out to be that it was a record-breaking year for global tourist visits. “International tourism grew by 4.4 per cent last year to a record 1.184 billion as calculated by overnight visitors to international destinations, 50 million more than in 2014, and the sixth consecutive year of above-average growth, UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) reported …”

There was even better news for our region:

“For the first time ever since the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) began keeping records, the Caribbean outperformed every major tourism region in the world in setting new arrival and spending records in 2015, while exceeding expectations…. International tourist trips to the region grew by seven per cent to 28.7 million visits, much higher than the projected four to five per cent growth”.

The data for individual countries highlight this growth.

The most impressive figures come from Cuba which saw over 3.5 million foreigners visit the island nation in 2015, a 17.3 per cent increase in one year. Canada remained the main source of visitors, with 1.3 million holiday guests, but the fastest growing market was the United States, with 161,000 visitors, for a 76.6 per cent growth, following the easing of restrictions by the Obama administration.

Tourist visits to Cuba are expected to explode over the next few years with the resumption of direct flights from the United States and the construction of scores of new hotels and resorts. If the same proportion of Americans as Canadians eventually travel there, this could result in over 10 million more annual visitors — many diverted from traditional destinations like The Bahamas, Puerto Rico, The Dominican Republic, and Jamaica, as well as little known places like St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) — as new airlines jockey for permission to land, including five from the United States which has recently lifted the boycott on direct aircraft travel to this once pariah state . This is supported by intense interest among major hotel brands eager to cash in on the burst in tourist interest as relations between the United States and Cuba quickly return to normal.

Varadero Beach

The Cuban example is a clear and unequivocal indication that tourist expansion is driven by tourist demand, not the other way round.

Another good example is JetBlue airline’s expanded service from Fort Lauderdale to The Bahamas. Philip Stewart, JetBlue manager of corporate communications, explained the move as follows:

JetBlue’s Nassau flights are performing quite well, and we have added the additional two daily departures to meet growing demand”.

Most other Caribbean islands saw their tourism numbers increase by 3-10 per cent in 2015.

So where does this leave SVG which is said to be working hard to tap into the fast growing global tourism market despite the country’s go-slow building of an international airport at Argyle?

At the bottom of the pack, as usual, with the exception of yacht visitors which have showed steady gains since 2011.

SVG Visitor Arrivals by Type, 2006-2015

Year Air Stop-over Cruise Ship Yacht Total Percent Change
2006 97,432    106,474 n/a*    203,906
2007 78,887    144,555 n/a    223,442
2008 84,101    116,709 n/a    200,810
2009 75,446    149,464 40,859    265,769
2010 72,478    110,955 42,603    226,036 -14.5 percent
2011 73,866    88,925 41,300    204,091 -9.7 percent
2012 74,364    76,996 45,246    196,606 -3.7 percent
2013 71,725    82,974 45,548    200,247 +1.0 percent
2014 70,713    85,170 46,899    202,782 +1.0 percent
2015 74,846**    82,079 47,479    204,404 +0.8 percent
Total 773,858 1,044,301 309,934 2,128,093  

*not available; **based on a 0.8 percent overall visitor arrival increase from 2014, as reported by the Chief Operations Officer of the SVG Tourism Authority in the Friday, March 18, 2016, The Vincentian newspaper, p. 6. (All other figures are from official records.)

What these figures reveal is that with the exception of yachters (records for which I found only going back to 2009), tourist visits to SVG have been stagnant or in decline for several years.

Of the 309,934 yacht passengers whose port of entry between 2009 and the end of 2015 was SVG, 90 per cent landed in the Grenadines. There is good reason for this: our enchanting cays are a renowned region for sailing, mooring, docking, snorkelling, bar-hopping, dining, and a host of beach activities.

While yacht visitors have increased, cruise ship disembarkations peaked in 2009 and have gone down ever since. The 82,079 passengers who visited SVG in 2015 represent a 21 per cent drop below the 10-year 104,430 average annual arrival level.

Though this trend is worrying it is not an economic catastrophe: though more than double the number of cruise ship passengers than yacht visitors disembarked between 2009 and 2016, their relative economic impact was inconsequential compared to the millions spent by yachters on water taxis, fuel, meals, alcohol, groceries, other provisions, onshore recreational activities, boat equipment and repairs, anchorage and docking fees, and overnight stays.

This is because all of the basic and recreational needs of cruise-ship passengers, save most alcoholic beverages, are met by their pre-paid cruise package and by on-board duty-free shopping and other extras like specialized dining. Likewise, most ship stores are purchased and loaded at the port of embarkation in the United States. While many passengers take onshore tours, which contribute to our tourism revenue, most of their non pre-paid spending occurs on-board or at duty-free havens like St. Martin.

As for stay-over airline passengers, the 10-year 2006-2015 annual average number of flyers landing here – 77,386 – was 3.3 per cent above the 74,846 number who arrived in 2015.

What do these figures mean? According to Faylene King, chief operations officer for the SVG Tourism Authority, the 0.8 per cent increase in 2015 overall visitors from the years before caused tourism officials to be “… extremely excited about the spike in visitor arrivals…” (The Vincentian newspaper, Friday, March 18, 2016, p. 6).

From global and regional perspectives, which saw increases of 4.4 per cent and seven per cent, respectively, in international tourist numbers, Ms. King’s “spike” – a word she should be taught means a “sharp increase” — is very disappointing indeed, especially since the 2015 “spike” levels are still 23 per cent below the 2009 levels.

This “spike” is all the more disappointing given that over half of the 74,846 people who landed in SVG in 2015 were not foreign tourists at all. Rather, as in previous years, they were local business people returning home, students coming back after studying overseas, retirees eager to spend their twilight years in their homeland, and overseas Vincentians home on holiday or to attend to family affairs, including the death of a loved one.

As inconvenient as many claim the existing in-transit connections via Barbados or elsewhere may be, few such Vincentians have ever been deterred from travelling back and forth by the absence of an international airport. Conversely, there is no evidence that many more Vincentians will be enticed to come home or travel abroad just because of the presence of a brand new airport. More important, even an annual tripling of foreign tourists — as unrealistic as it may be, especially given the absence of new hotel and resort development — would only raise their numbers to around 100,000 per annum, a figure whose yearly spin-off tax revenue and other benefits would never come close to matching the combined annual airport loan interest and debt repayments plus huge anticipated annual servicing costs.

So what do all these figures really say about our place in the world of travel?

First, these figures show that even when our tourism numbers increase, we keep falling further and further behind most other visitor-friendly countries.

Second, they suggest that the tiny Grenadines, rather than the mainland, are the heart and soul of our tourism industry. If this were not so, then far more than 10 per cent of SVG yachters would be visiting the mainland every year.

Third, that our cruise ship numbers are very low by Caribbean standards and have been declining in recent years does no bode well for the success of Argyle International Airport (AIA) when it is finally ready to receive passengers two or more years from now (an assessment based on my visit to the construction site on Sunday, March 13 which showed how much work remains to be done and how little has been accomplished since my visit at this time last year). This is because, judging from other Caribbean countries, cruise ship passenger numbers are a good proxy for potential AIA numbers: with few exceptions, the countries with large and growing cruise ship visitors also have large and growing airplane visitors.

The unfinished AIA as of Sunday, March 13, 2016.
The unfinished AIA as of Sunday, March 13, 2016.

The reason we have so few cruise ship visitors compared to our neighbours and why most stop-over airline passengers are our own people lies plainly in sight: mainland SVG has few well developed and professionally maintained hospitality facilities and tourist attractions compared to our Caribbean competitors.

But our most serious tourist weakness — and one over which we have no control — is the absence of large swaths of white sand beaches on St. Vincent Island, a shortcoming most yachters also recognize as they bypass the mainland on their way to the Grenadines.

The importance of large, well manicured white sand beaches and allied tourism attractions cannot be overestimated, as the above photo from Varadero, Cuba — a place that has attracted international tourists since the 1870s and now hosts a million annual visitors — suggests.

As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words but personal testimonies are even better. A recent study by the St. Lucia Tourist Board showed that Canadian visitors are eager to hit the beach as soon as they land, with almost 40 per cent of passengers packing their bathing suit in their carry-on just in case their stowed luggage doesn’t arrive with them. The survey also indicated that 59 per cent of these Canadian have carried out research on tours, adventures, and activities they can do on their trip.

“Each year we see thousands of Canadians escape the cold winter climate to bask in the warm Caribbean sun,” said Louis Lewis, director of tourism for the St. Lucia Tourist Board. “We’re thrilled that Canadians are ready to dive right into everything Saint Lucia has to offer, right from the moment they land”.

Those who wonder what kind of studies our own director of tourism, Glen Beache, has been carrying out to increase SVG’s dismal vacationer numbers may be heartened to know that he is studying hard to attract big name hotels to the mainland:

Travel Agent [an online travel industry site] sat down with Glen Beache [on June 1, 2015], CEO of St. Vincent and The Grenadines Tourism Authority, who told us Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts could be one of three new hotels to break ground this year in the destination [at Mt. Wynne/Peter’s Hope]. This would be St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ first Four Seasons hotel…. Although nothing has been signed yet, Beache told us the tourism authority is looking to add such brands as Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Hyatt Hotels Corporation and Marriott International”.

 

Before he begins “looking to add such brands as” five-star Four Seasons, Beache needs to learn that the company has not built any property of its own from scratch for decades. This is because:

“In 1974, cost overruns at a Vancouver [Canada] property nearly led the company into bankruptcy. As a result, the company began shifting to its current, management-only business model, eliminating costs associated with buying land and buildings.

Four Seasons does not own most of its properties; it operates them on behalf of real estate owners and developers. The contracts between Four Seasons and property owners typically permit the company to participate in the design of the property and run it with nearly total control over every aspect of the operation”

 

Beache could not possibly negotiate with Four Seasons, especially at an early stage of development, simply because the company does not negotiate directly with governments to buy or lease land on which to build hotels and resorts. (Given its discerning track record, that Four Seasons would ever advise one of its developer clients to build a hotel/resort complex on an isolated and gritty black-sand beach on our Leeward coast seems highly unlikely.)

That Beache is so unfamiliar with such elementary facts about arguably the most prestigious hotel and resort operator in the world speaks volumes not only to his competence as CEO of the SVG Tourism Authority but to our overall ability to compete in the cutthroat international hospitality industry.

As for Marriott International, it recently announced that it plans to open 60 new hotels in the Caribbean and Latin America. Not one of these is earmarked for SVG. (If Beache has even been in contact with Marriott, a chain with more than 4,000 properties in over 80 countries and territories around the world, they have clearly said thanks, but no thanks.)

Caribbean tourism is now a mature and well established industry. Our holiday visitor numbers and the interest of global hotel developers are precisely what they should be based on the appeal and potential of our mainland compared to other destinations, the environmental limitations on expansion in the tiny and fragile Grenadines, and the increasingly sophisticated and upmarket nature of the Caribbean hospitality industry.

No new international airport at Argyle would ever change these facts.

***

This is the 25th in a series of essays on the folly of the proposed Argyle International Airport.

My other AIA pieces may be found at:

  1. Get ready for a November election!
  2. Lessons for Argyle Airport from Canada’s Montreal–Mirabel Int’l
  3. Lessons for Argyle Int’l Airport from the cruise industry
  4. Lessons from Target Canada for Argyle Int’l Airport
  5. Lessons from Trinidad & Tobago for Argyle Int’l Airport
  6. The Dark Side of Tourism: Lessons for Argyle Airport
  7. Why Argyle Won’t Fly: Lessons from Dominica
  8. Ken Boyea and the Phantom City at Arnos Vale
  9. Airport Envy Vincy-Style
  10. Fully realising our country’s tourism potential
  11. Airport without a cause
  12. The unnatural place for an international airport
  13. The Potemkin Folly at Argyle
  14. False patriotism and deceitful promises at Argyle
  15. Airport politics and betrayal Vincy-Style
  16. Phony airport completion election promises, Vincy-style
  17. Is Argyle Airport really a ‘huge game-changer for us?’
  18. Has the cat got your tongue, Prime Minister?
  19. More proof that Argyle won’t fly
  20. Our very own Vincentian cargo cult at Argyle
  21. The missing Argyle Airport feasibility studies
  22. The world’s four most amazing abandoned airports
  23. Farming, fishing, and foolish talk about Argyle International Airport
  24. Argyle Airport amateur hour

C. ben-David

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to news.iwitness@gmail.com.

15 replies on “St. Vincent’s place in the world of travel”

  1. C. ben-David says:

    ADDENDUM:

    Since the posting of this essay, I have become aware of two additional pieces of data that bear directly on my comments:

    1. According to Dr. Godwin Friday, NDP Member of Parliament for the Northern Grenadines, 91,862 yacht visitors landed in SVG. If this figure is correct (as I mentioned above, I was unable to locate figures prior to 2010), this means that the 2015 numbers represent a disturbing drop of some 50 percent over this period. The Tourism Authority should tell us why this dramatic drop took place — and what they are doing to reverse it — as many other Caribbean countries saw a dramatic increase in yacht visitors during the same period.

    2. As for the possible interest of other international hotel chains not mentioned above in building hotels/resorts in SVG, it was just announced on March 21 that:

    “Starwood Hotels and Resorts on Saturday signed three new hotel deals in Cuba, marking the first US-based hospitality company to enter the market in nearly 60 years” (http://www.caribbeannewsnow.com/topstory-Major-US-hotel-company-announces-groundbreaking-expansion-to-Cuba-29729.html).

    One of the world’s largest hotel companies, Starwood owns, operates, franchises and manages over 1,200 hotels, resorts, spas, residences, and vacation ownership properties under its 11 owned brands, including prestigious Westin, Sheraton, and St. Regis.

    Meanwhile not a single international hotel chain, prestigious or otherwise, has signed a deal to construct as much as a mauby parlor in SVG.

  2. C. ben-David says:

    No sooner was my piece posted here, that Faylene King, chief operations officer for the SVG Tourism Authority, implied on IWN’s Facebook page that I had misquoted her:

    “Please do not misquote me, in my opening remarks at the session I said ‘ in 2015, overall visitor arrivals to the destination increased by 0.8%….we anticipate significant growth in 2016; while we are extremely excited about the predicted spike in visitor arrivals, we need to also be prepared with quality tourism products and services.”

    My reply to this specious claim is:

    (1) I was quoting her words from the Vincentian newspaper which did not include the word “predicted” — so don’t blame me.

    (2) I had to get a secondary source for the 2015 stop-over airline passenger number because her Tourism Authority has still not released this figure to the public though we are nearly four months into 2016. I guess her people must be far too busy to post this data, which she clearly know, on its site.

    (3) I sent her people an e-mail last week requesting this number, but have still not had a reply. I guess her staff is so overworked that they have no time to answer any e-mails from the tax-paying public. If so, how did Ms. King find the time to post something on Facebook so quickly during working hours?

    (4) How can Ms. King be so “excited” about a “predicted” spike in tourism numbers when the “predicted” airport completion dates have been so horribly wrong? Surely, she can’t expect such a “spike” this year or next, or even the year after that.

    (5) How can she be so “excited” about a “predicted” spike in airport arrivals — the only possible “spike” she could be “excited” about –when our mainland hotel, resort, guest house, and other capacity could not possibly accommodate any real spike during the overseas winter season?

  3. YOU really are a piece of Work . It is evident to me at least, that you probably own a part of this
    online newspaper . What you fail to realize is that by badmouthing SVG , YOU are demonizing
    the Country . It is crystal clear to me that you are a firm believer of Putting the Cart before the
    Horse .

    YOU fail to cite the fact that the main reason other Countries , comparable to SVG in the Region
    have had International Airports for many years ; and as a result they have Hotels of various
    sizes ; also facilities to accommodate Tourists .

    YOU seem oblivious to the fact that it is impossible to attract Hotels if there is no International
    Airport , to house Hoteliers Guests . I know for a fact that :

    FOR 40 PLUS YEARS , GOVERNMENTS IN ST. VINCENT &THE GRENADINES HAVE

    TALKED ABOUT AN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT , NOTHING HAPPENED UNTIL THE

    CURRENT GOVERNMENT DECIDED TO BUILD THE ARGYLE INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

    So when you show pictures of Tobago , St. Lucia et al , YOU are being a very , very dishonest
    Person . Since you bluntly refuse to accept the fact that Investors in Hotels & Hotel chains
    would not put down a Hotel in any Country that does not have an International Airport .
    I stated this to you in this newspaper before , but you persist in your nonsense .

    In this issue Current Issue of the Newspaper , You have biasedly published a photo of the
    Argyle International Airport . Evidently you probably do not look at the Photos of Sydney Morgan . If you have not I recommend that you look at those he took on Saturday last . You
    have also failed to state that the Current Opposition Party was in Office for 17 years ; not 17
    days , or 17 weeks ; or 17 months 17 YEARS . It did nothing regarding building an International Airport . Yet you bluntly refuse to castigate that Party .

    Le me again state the fact that had the Opposition Party had they built am International Airport
    it would have cost less , and there would have been a lot of Hotels in SVG . This however
    apparently does not bother You since you persist in Machiavellian Tactics regarding the Argyle International Airport .It is quite evident to me that Honesty is not one of Virtues that you possess .

    VERIDICAL

  4. It is all very disturbing. As usual the SVG government never seems to have a clue. I remember less than a year ago a representative of JetBlue said the major problem for them coming to our part of the Caribbean is because it is far too expensive. Which means the tourist does not get what they pay for. One main reason why mainland SVG does not have the tourists as the other islands is because most tourists do not like to go places where they stand a good chance of getting robed, raped or killed. The other islands are bad enough, but the mainland is just much worse. We can say thanks to the Government for creating all those jobs that have been promised for over a decade. All the new taxes just intensify things.

  5. Anyone can spin raw data to suit their narrative. I would love the opportunity to rebut some of the many arguments you have presented over the years if allowed. Without delving deep into the presented stats, a few things should be obvious that apparently are not. Countries with International Airports have air arrivals at minimum double their sea arrivals. Having an economy that relies so heavily on tourism and is it’s most important component being the yachting sector whose clientele is an ultra exclusive community, is just purely foolish. As pointed out, they need not spend their dollars on shore. These numbers will generally be fixed within a range as there a just a few who can afford such luxuries.

    Our neighbors to the north and south have had at minimum a 30 year head start on building a tourism infrastructure to attract potential visitors. SVG has a lot of work to do. I doesn’t end with the construction of an International Airport. One take away as we watch the news is that Americans at not in a hurry to visits Europe as the grapple with a new phase of terrorism in their midst. Americans are looking in their own hemisphere for a get away.

    Your arguments in your pieces as presented are interesting. You ask the tourism authority why there stats are different but you never ask yourself in your pieces. It’s always the conclusion that no one wants to come to these shores. I’ll leave you with this stat. Roughly 74% of SVG GDP is due to tourism as is most of our neighbors, yet their GDP in some cases is double that of SVG. Why is that?

    1. C. ben-David says:

      A load of rubbish. For your enlightenment, the actual GDP figures for SVG are as follows:

      GDP: DIRECT CONTRIBUTION

      The direct contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was XCD105.7mn (5.4% of total GDP) in 2014, and is forecast to rise by 2.2% in 2015, and to rise by 4.8% pa, from 2015-2025, to XCD172.0mn (6.5% of total GDP) in 2025.

      In 2014 Travel & Tourism directly supported 2,000 jobs (5.0% of total employment). This is expected to remain unchanged in 2015 and rise by 2.2% pa to 3,000 jobs (6.2% of total employment) in 2025.

      GDP: TOTAL CONTRIBUTION

      The total contribution of Travel & Tourism to GDP was XCD388.4mn (19.9% of GDP) in 2014, and is forecast to rise by 2.6% in 2015, and to rise by 4.8% pa to XCD637.0mn (24.0% of GDP) in 2025.

      Source: World Travel and Tourism Council: https://www.wttc.org/-/media/files/reports/economic%20impact%20research/countries%202015/stvincentandthegrenadines2015.pdf

  6. I find it very interesting that whenever I write in this online newspaper , it takes days before
    what I write gets moderated . This is precisely why I believe that C. ben-David has a
    connection to this Newspaper .

    He can be found in most Newspapers in the Region , Badmouthing the Country that he lives in
    at every twist & turn . Never once has he ever stated the fact that the Opposition Party was in the governance of SVG for 17 years , Yet it did absolutely NOTHING about building or
    exploring the feasibility of building an International Airport .

    There are many people in SVG , who are deathly afraid that the Argyle International Airport
    will be a success , and that aint on their Agenda , The woman who wished that a Tsunami could come and wash away the Airport is a classic example of the asinine mentality of those
    who fail to realise that the Argyle International Airport is for ALL VINCENTIANS , not just
    for the people in the ULP .

    Let me once again ask C.ben-David this question , and I hope that he will summons up his Testicular Fortitude to answer on this occasion , and it is this :

    DO YOU BELIEVE THAT HOTELIERS & HOTEL INVESTORS WOULD BUILD HOTELS

    IN COUNTRIES THAT DO NOT HAVE AN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ?????

    I have asked You this before , but you have not yet given an Answer . You prefer instead to
    write a Series of articles , while blithely ignoring my query . I hope that what I have written here is not going to take a lot of time before it gets moderated .

    1. Veridical:

      Shorter comments are moderated sooner. Longer comments take more time. Comments found to contain content that could open us to legal implications are deleted without warning.

      IWN

    2. C. ben-David says:

      Look no further than the Grenadines islands of Mustique, Palm Island, and Petit St. Vincent for places with vibrant tourism industries by no international airport.

      The same hold for places like St. Barts and several of The Bahamas outer islands.

      There also many small Mediterranean and Pacific islands with thriving tourism industries and no international airport.

      There are many renowned tourist areas in Canada and the United States that are very far from international airports and therefore require visits by car, bus, train, and commuter airlines. The same hold true for other parts of the world.

      Conversely, too many places to mention around the globe have international airports but little tourism potential or interest.

      Your simplistic underlying premise that “if you build an international airport, then international tourists are bound to come” has no basis in fact. Repeating it over and over again will never change this fact.

      Most desirable tourist locales, especially in the Caribbean and other tropical or subtropical countries, built or expanded their international airports to accommodate on an increase in tourist visitors that made older facilities inefficient. The same goes for hotels: the expansion in this sector is nearly always based on increased tourist visitors, not the other way round.

      Also, you are wrong about previous governments, all of which beginning with Cato looked at the issue of airport expansion.

      Mitchell was planning to extend Arnos Vale airport to accommodate planes carrying 120 passengers when he resigned but his plan was never acted on by Eustace or Gonsalves, the latter preferring to build a brand new airport carrying his name at Argyle even though it is not needed and cannot be afforded.

      The Arnos Vale airport could have been extended by a further distance than Mitchell envisioned at a cost of $EC 150-200 million to accommodate jets flying non-stop from Toronto, New York, and London carrying 150 passengers.

      Though one-fifth or less the cost of Argyle, this project would also have resulted in the same underused but oversized airport simply because mainland SVG is not now nor will ever be a popular tourist island.

      I am not badmouthing my beloved and beautiful country, as you claim. I am merely trying to tell the truth as I see while doing my best to educate people like you who cannot tolerate any criticism of their current government’s foolish policies.

      1. C.ben-David ,

        You are a very dishonest person . Arnos Vale it is my understanding was & is unsuitable , because of the wind factor . You also failed to take into consideration that around Arnos
        Vale is a residential area . That possibly would not sit easily with the residents of Cane Garden & other surrounding areas .

        Argyle will be able to accommodate those same jets you have stated flying nonstop to the developed Countries . Those of us who live in the diaspora , for many years have had to suffer
        hardships in Barbados where the people at LIAT were and are
        Uncouth , and told Passengers that the plane to SVG was filled .

        Their game was to ensure that Passengers overnight
        in Barbados . That may seem a trifling matter to you , however
        in most of the Islands in the Caribbean Remittances is very important to the Economy of those Countries .

        I thought that it would have been obvious to you that it is impossible to attract Hoteliers & Hotel Developers to any
        Country when a Country does not have an International Airport . Now this is a fact , that you have failed to acknowledge .

        I state this , because in your many Essays , you have written about hotels in countries in the Region , and whether wittingly or unwittingly , you have failed to state that those Countries
        have International Airports , and have had them for many years .

        It is therefore very unreasonable to compare Argyle International Airport & St. Vincent to those Countries . Your
        assertion that there are no Tourist Sites on the mainland is
        inaccurate , There are the Forts ; One of the oldest Botanical
        Gardens in the Western Hemisphere , there are Beaches on the mainland also . BTW in Hawaii there are beaches with Black Sand . There in La Soufriere ; the Falls of Belaine ; etc.
        so for you to state that there is not much for Tourist to visit on the mainland is untrue .

        I am not a member of the Party currently in the governance of SVG , however they, in my opinion must be given Credit when credit is due . I deplore the fact that SVG has become a battle
        between the two main Political Parties . The Country is for ALL
        VINCENTIANS , regardless of Political Affiliation . As I have already stated the Airport is for ALL Vincentians .

  7. c-ben, You are absolutely correct in pointing out my erroneous GDP figures. I pull those figures from the World Bank site which reflected all the services including tourism. But it really isn’t the point I was trying to relay. Let’s look at it another way. Let’s use the stats you introduced from Travel and Tourism. The total GDP contribution in SVG, which includes direct, indirect, and induced contributions, in 2015 by travel and tourism, was around 400 million EC, which was roughly 20% of the GDP of the country as a whole. Please excuse my run-ons. Looking at our neighbors to the north, St. Lucia, who has an International Airport, but not nearly land area nor the notorious sailing area of the Grenadines, their total GDP contribution via travel and tourism was roughly 2.65 billion EC. Please allow me to repeat, 2.65 billion EC versus 400 mil, which is 41% of their GDP as a whole. Now, two things, not only do they blow us away in share numbers they generate but they are more efficient in extracting revenues the area that is most vital to their economy, tourism. It’s impacts 41% of their GDP. I know forward thinking is not en vogue in the Caribbean, but surely you must admit that some radical thinking and strategy implementation must be put forth in SVG to jump start jobs, investment and the economy. If not tourism then what??..And addressing another on of your post, the Bahamas has 4 International Airports, not sure how many are frequently used. And do please define the term “vibrant” you use while referring to tourism in Petite SVG, Palm Island and Mustique. An American would have to be rich to go those places. I know, I have been there a few times. It cost up to 40% more to come to SVG as it cost to visit Barbados. The trip could take twice as long too. Surely you can see how those factors may affect tourism numbers.

    1. And please stops with lengthening the runway at Arnos Vale, A completely new Airport needs to be built to meet the needs of the times. I remember waiting for my flight out at Arnos Vale while Amerijet was taking off before us. Our luggage on the cart outside waiting to be put on Liat was blown away by the jet engines of Amerijet as it turned around and prepared for take off.

    2. C. ben-David says:

      St. Lucia has a population of 183,000 people; we have a population of 110,000 people. So other things being equal, their overall GDP would have to be higher.

      St. Lucia has a land area of 238 square miles; we have a land area (including the Grenadines) of 150 square miles. This means we have a hugely greater coastline for putting holiday resorts and hotels.

      St. Lucia has a rolling hill topography making transportation and other infrastructure costs much lower than in our mountainous country. Even during the hey-day of bananas (not to mention sugar cane cultivation) this also imited the amount of land on which crops could be grown which then adversely affected our GDP.

      St. Lucia has tons of wide white sand beaches; we have some such beaches in the Grenadines but even in Bequia most beaches are not as attractive.

      All these features have made St. Lucia a far more desirable tourism locale even before they build an international airport.

      Accordingly, the “radical thinking” you refer to has to come from some other area than tourism. Unfortunately, that other area is not industry, agriculture, or finance.

      So what is the answer. Well, some developmental problems simply have no good answer. We simply have to live with the natural limitations God gave us.

      The short and long of it is that we will always be a comparatively have-not country compared with many of our neighbours. Learn to live with what we have or … migrate to a richer country as tens of thousands of our people have done have done since emancipation in 1838.

Comments are closed.