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Ces Mckie
Minister of Tourism Cecil “Ces” McKie. (File photo)
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The impact of COVID-19 on tourism in St. Vincent and Grenadines is not just “severe” as Opposition Leader Godwin Friday said in a question to Parliament on Monday, but “crippling”, according to Tourism Minister Cecil “Ces” McKie.

Friday in his question asked the tourism minister to state, in light of the “severe impact” of the COVID-19 pandemic on the travel and tourism industries, the projected impact on the local cruise and hotel sectors of the tourism industry, and the measures the government has implemented or plans to implement to help the local tourism industry to cope with and recover from the economic fallout of the crisis.

The tourism minister said:

“The Honourable Member used the word ‘severe’. I would add ‘crippling’ to that description. So the impact has been both severe and crippling, to the tourism sector.”

McKie reiterated that the tourism sector probably was the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic of all the sectors across St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

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“Arrival numbers would give you an idea of the impact on local cruise and the hotel sectors,” he said, adding that what had promised to be a record breaking year across all arrival types has been brought to a halt.

“By air for example, while we did not close our borders, did not close our airports, the fact that three international carriers stopped flying to St. Vincent and Grenadines — that’s Caribbean airlines, American Airlines and Air Canada Rouge — and LIAT also stopped flying … meant therefore that no returning Vincentians came home, no visitors came to the destination.

“There were no heads in beds. So the hotels were empty for most part and there were no takers of the packages offered by the local cruisers.”

He said that while it was indicated earlier that day that flights should recommence the first week in July, there was still uncertainty as he was speaking, and Air Canada has rescheduled their July 2 resumption of flights to SVG to July 23.

“American Airlines is still on schedule for the 11th of July. We, as yet have no indication from Caribbean Airlines when they will recommence and LIAT also has given no indication on when they would recommence flying. So I think the other Caribbean countries are also suffering the same fate in that their flights have been pushed back in some cases as well,” McKie said.

He went on to detail the income support measure that his government has provided for persons in the accommodation and travel industry, including income support of between EC$250 and EC$300 per month for six months for workers in the hospitality industry.

McKie said 320 taxi operators, 32 tour bus operators and 44 water taxi operators, have received a one-off payment of between EC$1,000 and EC$2,000 while some 400 persons in the cultural industry have received a one-off payment EC$300 to EC$1,500.

He noted that the government negotiated with financial institutions to give some relief to the business sector, as it relates to payments at banks and utility bills.

Further, the government has extended the period in which hospitality industry employers would be required to pay severance.

“And this would also be of great benefit to the operators in the sector,” he said

3 replies on “SVG tourism crippled; Air Canada delays resumption”

  1. Don’t expect any movement in the tourism industry until travelers are comfortable boarding planes. No one will believe the airplane industry since they lied about the last great disasters. They just want money and will say anything to fool people. Air-condition and seating are the biggest problem for air travellers. Checking for temperature before flight is no guarantee that folks don’t have the virus. As for those cruise ships that’s another problem.
    Many people were stranded for months and suffered terrible during those periods. Why would anybody think of going back on those ships? Car sale has increased because folks are not using public transit. Folks are buying vehicles so they don’t have to use hotel rooms.
    The tourist industry will take years before it can resume some travel and all this is based on how long the virus sticks around. As long as he’s out there no one will want to travel.

  2. Professor King says:

    Now is a good time for the government to invest meaningfully into Agriculture and Manufacturing. Think. What are our strengths? What about considering the creation of processing and packaging “factories” to package ground provision, vegetables and fruits for export..? And what about exploring existing markets in Trinidad, Barbados, BVI, etc. to export these packaged goods? Hundreds of young Vincentians can be employed.

    Historically, I am a supporter of the ULP government. I applauded the revolutions in education, road infrastructure, and international air access. However, in the generation timeline (19+ years) of ULP administration of SVG affairs, a major pitfall is manufacturing. 0% on the report card. It seems like the leaders lacked imagination….

  3. Skeck, you are absolutely correct. Tourism will need re-inventing and will take years to recover. The hotels that are being built in SVG will either become abandoned projects or white elephants .

    There is a formula for recovery and I am currently consulting in America on the subject. Not one of SVGs hotel owners know what day of the week it is, let alone post COVID 19.

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