Minister of Tourism, Cecil “Ces” McKie says that St. Vincent and the Grenadines saw increased arrivals in 2017, when compared to the 2016 figures.
Air arrivals in 2017, locals and visitors combined, were up 11 per cent over the 2016 figures, he told a rally in Argyle on Saturday to celebrate one year since Argyle International Airport began operating — Feb. 14, 2017.
“And we know that the locals responded by the charters and also the direct scheduled flights and they came to the destination,” he said in reference to the increased air arrivals.
A number of chartered international flights operated on the day the airport opened and in the months thereafter, until Air Canada Rouge began operating on Dec. 14, the weekly scheduled non-stops flights to and from Toronto, which will end on April 14.
The tourism minister said that arrivals by yacht increased by 7.9 per cent over the 2016 figure.
In November 2017, yacht arrivals increased 40 per cent and in December it was up 30.1 per cent.
Arrivals by cruise ships increased by 75 per cent over the 2016 numbers. In November, it was up 97 per cent and 147.3 per cent in December.
“Why? Because there is a new interest in the destination St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Investors are coming in and talking to us. … I want to say to you that that interest is only there because of the Argyle International Airport. What a government! What a project! And what progress!” McKie said.
“The time for ‘Can we?’ ‘Should we? ‘Must we?’ are gone. They were gone since the 14th of February 2017,” the minister said.
“Non-nationals, persons who are not Vincentians, they have come to the Argyle International Airport and without exception, they have all been high in praise for the quality of this facility. They love it.
“Vincentians, are we going to allow non-nationals, persons who are not here to love the Argyle International Airport more than we do? I don’t think so. So I’m urging you this evening, I want you to commit to ensuring that the Argyle International Airport continues to work for us,” McKie said.