The Future Looks Bright For St. Vincent and The Grenadines

“I’m perhaps one of the only ministers of tourism in the Caribbean who will say we’re not in the business of mass tourism. It may sound strange — do we want more people to come? Yes, but it’s really about sustainable tourism,” Carlos James, Minister of Tourism for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said kicking off a breakfast event in Toronto yesterday morning. “And what we’re building out is a special part of that. We’re going to share the value, the experience of the culture and heritage of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, with what we have in terms of natural beauty.”

In the city as part of a Canadian road show that visited Ottawa the previous day, James noted that travel advisors were “buzzing” about selling the destination.

“The travel agents are quite excited about it, they said we’re taking clients all over Mexico, the Dominican Republic, they need something new, they need something fresh and they need something exciting,” he added.

Joining the event were Maureen Barnes-Smith, Vice President of Sales & Marketing for Unique Vacations (Canada) Inc. and C.J. Smith, Director of Sales, Unique Vacations (Canada) Inc.; as James shared that a highly-anticipated development on the main island of St. Vincent is the 301-room Sandals Saint Vincent & The Grenadines, slated to open on March 27, 2024, complete with over water villas.

Keeping sustainable tourism in mind, he said the development will include a community tourism project designated to host cultural events like a weekly fish fry, BBQs, etc. where local vendors will be able to sell products.

“We’re creating the linkages with our communities, ensuring that everyone has the opportunity to benefit from what has taken place in our tourism build out. And that’s what’s happening,” he added. “You will not hear of St. Vincent and the Grenadines being a destination where you have a 1,000 room hotel.”

Along with Sandals, upcoming projects include a 93-room Holiday Inn Express and a 250-room Marriott.

Also on hand for the event was Viktor Spysak, the new Manager, Sales and Tourism Partnerships at Air Canada, who previously worked at the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Spysak noted that Air Canada will offer up to four weekly flights during peak season — up from three last season. Non-stop flights resume on Oct. 30. Although the service is still slated to be seasonal until the end of April, Barnes-Smith vowed that Sandals would help fill the planes to push for year round service.

New for travel advisors, SVG is now recognizing top performing agents with an incentive award program. Shelley John, Director of Sales – Canada, for the St.Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority, said these bookings will be logged and tracked through the DiscoverSVG Pro site. And for those booking destination weddings, James noted that the licensing process has not only been de-centralized and is no longer required to be done in St. Vincent, but it can also be completed online now.

For more on what’s new in SVG, stay tuned to the Oct. 26 edition of Travel Courier.