Visitors to SVG walk along the beach in Buccament Bay in April 2016. (iWN photo)

St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) registered a 19 per cent fall in visitor arrivals in 2015, compared to 2000, even as each of the other Windward Islands registered increases ranging from 15 to 44 per cent.

The nation also received the lowest number of visitors among the Windward Islands during the 15-year period.

Speaking on his weekly radio programme on NICE Radio on Monday, Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace noted that the Government was boasting about a year-on-year increase in the number of persons visiting SVG during the first quarter of 2015.

“Fifteen years after the Unity Labour Party took over the business of running this country, our tourism arrivals have gone down,” Eustace said.

Eastern Caribbean Central Bank statistics shows that 311,282 persons visited Dominica in 2000, compared to 358,820 in 2015 — an increase of 15.27 per cent.

The figures for Grenada were 314,325 in 2000 and 406,090 in 2015 — an increase of 29.2 per cent.

St. Lucia saw 742,323 visitors in 2000 while 1,073,019 arrived in 2015 — an increase of 44.5 per cent.

But in SVG, there were 256,039 visitors in 2000, compared to 206,662 in 2015 — a decrease of 19.3 per cent.

“So, in fact, St. Vincent is the only island in these Windward Islands which had a decline,” Eustace said.

The figures also show that during the period 2000 to 2015, total visitor arrivals in Dominica was 6,318,240, while 5,998,254 persons visited Grenada, 14,057,856 went to St. Lucia and 3,877,883 came to SVG.

Eustace said that when Minister of Tourism Cecil “Ces” McKie told Parliament about the increases from January to March, he is fooling the nation.

“Give the real story,” Eustace said.

“Give the true story of what has been happening in tourism for the last 15 years,” he said, adding, “Don’t give me any one quarter, any three- or four-month period and tell me we are doing well.”

Eustace said there may be a lot of excuses, adding that the Government would say things are bad everywhere.

He, however, countered by saying that if this is the cause, visitor arrivals in the other Windward Islands would have gone down also.

“They may say that St. Vincent doesn’t have an international airport. But Dominica doesn’t have an international airport … but their tourist arrivals went up by 15 per cent while ours went down by 19…

“This whole idea of blaming this on the fact that we don’t have an [international] airport shows that other countries, without an international airport can still have some growth while we can’t…”

He noted that in 2015 358,820 persons arrived in Dominica, compared to 206,662 who arrived in SVG during the same period.

“It clearly shows that the people who are running our country, who are running our tourism don’t know what they are doing. There is no excuse,” he said and questioned why the other Windward Islands are growing and SVG is declining.

Eustace said that was the reason for the negative economic growth some years ago.

“Because this government doesn’t know what it is doing… Years now we are building an [international] airport. Dominica has never had an international airport but it is bringing more tourists than us. It is harder to get to Dominica than to get to St. Vincent,” Eustace said.

He said that when tourism arrivals are decreasing, it affects employment, the confidence of business people in the tourism sector and will also affect foreign exchange earnings.

Eustace said he gets “quite angry” when he sees the figures because he knows better can be done.

He said there are a lot of hard-working people in the tourism sector “but the sector is not well-managed at the public sector level, otherwise we would not be declining as we are declining today”.

He further said that regional carrier, LIAT cannot be blamed for the declining visitor arrivals since the same airline also services all the other Windward Islands.

12 replies on “SVG the only Windward Island with fewer visitors in 2015 than 2000”

  1. C. ben-David says:

    The figures appear correct and poor tourist promotion and resource management are indeed important considerations but the overriding issue is that the mainland of SVG which makes up the mass of our country has comparatively little tourism potential something that any objective observer who has visited the other Windward Islands would clearly appreciate. As they say, you can’t turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.

    Let us continue to love and cherish our island of St. Vincent while accepting that future tourism growth in our country lies in the Grenadines.

    1. Yes! If the government has its’ way they will ram the main island down the throats of the tourists whether they like it or not. That will teach those NDP-voting Grenadines!

  2. AN INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT IS NOT THE SOLUTION!!! Nobody chooses a holiday destination in order to visit an airport – and nobody ever will. I am a “tourist” who has spent extended time in SVG for the last fifteen years. Getting there is not particularly easy, but that has never mattered.

    What DOES matter is what we find when we arrive… Sadly, conditions have deteriorated seriously over the past several years. The islands are as beautiful as always, and so many Vincentians remain as warm, welcoming, and accommodating as they always have been.

    However, the costs to the country of this never-ending “airport project,” and the general neglect of people’s basic needs, are taking a painful toll on both residents and visitors. It is not only Vincys who suffer the bad roads, the minimal medical and social services, the ever-increasing VATs, the scarcity of basic commodities, the poverty, the unemployment, the increasing incidence of burglaries and petty crimes, and so on. Every “tourist” faces these as well. In addition, we see the daily frustration and the growing unhappiness of our Vincy friends, no matter how good a face they try to put on for our benefit.

    Yes, there are many dedicated and hard-working individuals in the tourism sector. But “tourism” must be based on a sound overall economy, and a thriving populace. “Tourism” cannot repair what government ignores and neglects – and no new “international airport” will magically convince visitors to come as long as these conditions continue to deteriorate.

    BTW, E.T. Joshua, the international airport currently in service, has not changed substantially in more than fifteen years, except for a coat of paint – and that fountain STILL isn’t working!

  3. skeckpalmer says:

    Funny; tourism was supposed to replace agriculture, now both are dead. Even 2016 Carnival did not live up to the hype. CDC needs restructuring and new blood. I saw hundreds outside the Soca competition. I even heard people complained about the entrance fee that was much higher this year. I am sure there were fewer visitors from the Diasporas this year.
    It would be nice to see CDC balance sheet to determine or know how well it is handling the job.
    .

    1. Ralphonomics at work! We may be like Haiti in a few years. 10 years ago we were just below St Lucia and we used to laugh at Dominica, now we are below Dominica economically. They say “It’s bad everywhere.” Maybe they are talking about the weather.

    2. Reminds me of when Ben Franklin said “He who would trade security for Freedom loses both and deserves neither.” A PM who trades our Agricultural gift for Tourism has lost both.

      1. Patrick Ferrari says:

        C. ben, I am Vincy, all right, so let me explain.

        A battie is a goodish bit bigger. A bumcie is younger and more humorous, that is, less of a sexual connotation. A derriere belongs strictly to a honky.

        P.S. I was born in Trinidad and sometimes claim to be Trinidadian like for example: all you Vincy people don’t know how to complete airport.

      1. Patrick Ferrari says:

        Black top? Oh yea. For true. Now stop interrupting me and let me get back to where I was ogling.

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