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Cruise visitors to St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Buccament Bay on Jan. 1, 2024.
Cruise visitors to St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Buccament Bay on Jan. 1, 2024.
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By Kimani Wiseman

Tourism in the Caribbean is imperative to the economy. A Jamaica Observer article states that Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett declared that tourism “will be the biggest driver of economic growth and prosperity in Jamaica for years to come”. The article further states that Bartlett noted that in 2022, Jamaica welcomed 3.3 million visitors, with estimated foreign exchange earnings of roughly US $3.7 billion.

In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, tourism helps to boost the economy. It provides jobs and it contributes to the gross domestic product (GDP). However, we must lift our game to attract more tourists to this beautiful country and make each stay enjoyable for every tourist so that they would return with more friends and relatives. The transportation sector needs reexamining. Most minivans are off the road by 8 or 9 p.m. If a tourist wants to go to a nightclub for 10 pm., it would be difficult to get transportation to leave their hotel or apartment. In other Caribbean countries, it is very easy to get transportation late in the night. 

Bird watching can be explored a lot more and strategically it can put money into the pockets of locals. We can explore the possibility of having cable rides for watching the various species of birds in their natural habitat and when bird watching is “booming”, a business can be established for renting binoculars to tourists and locals. Conservation of the forest is paramount for bird watching to be successful. Deforestation eradicates the natural habitat for birds.

The ministries of Tourism and Agriculture can collaborate and implement a programme (AgriTourism) to have tourists visiting farms across the country and learning about how certain crops are cultivated with the theme “from the farm to the table”. 

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For example, dasheen, eddoes, yams, tannia, ginger, etc. The tourists would pay the farmers a small fee to visit their farm and they would be educated about these crops. They can also be taught about how the dasheen leaves are used as callaloo and after the farm visit persons can sell callaloo soup. The soup would include dasheen, eddoes, yams, tannia, etc. 

For tourists visiting farms with fruit trees, a small fee would be paid to these farmers and after the visit, there would be local fruit drinks and guava jelly on sale for tourists to purchase. Other local products can also be sold to tourists, such as tamarind balls, sugar cake, plantain chips, etc. These are psychological marketing strategies to ensure that the tourism dollar is trickling down to the lower class of people in the country and marketing our local products. Has anyone ever thought of buying some boats and establishing a “parasailing business”? Parasailing would be a unique experience for tourists and locals because it would give them an aerial view of the beautiful pristine beaches in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Cruise ships dock at Kingstown cruise ship berth and there is a lack of local food and drinks available for tourists to purchase. Tourists are not coming to SVG to eat fast food and drink soda. They want a unique experience. There is a lot of fast food and soda in their homeland. We need to also have more crafts, and local food and drinks on sale at popular tourist sites. Some vendors and taxioperators are guilty of overcharging tourists. Greed would be detrimental to your business. Overcharging can deter tourists from visiting our country. Littering at beaches, parks, rivers, waterfalls, and in the streets must stop. Dispose of your garbage in a garbage bin. When you clean your house, do you litter in it? Why litter elsewhere? What other ideas do you have for improving the tourism product in St. Vincent and the Grenadines?

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