Andrew Doherty kicks back with the Caribbean island to hear about its latest developments
As someone who thinks they are fairly skilled at the art of relaxation, I couldn’t help but smile when I first heard the expression “liming” at the recent Destination St. Kitts and Nevis Roadshow in London.
I discovered the term refers to unwinding and having a good time and my Kittitian hosts were experts at creating the perfect conditions for mastering it – from the perfectly mixed mango-infused espresso martinis and chilled calypso music down to the Caribbean cuisine being served.
Although the people of St Kitts know how to throw a good party, they are hardworking, passionate ambassadors for the island too.
In attendance was Lindsay Grant, minister of tourism for St Kitts, who said that the nation was working hard to attract more UK visitors.
“For us the UK is always going to be a significant market; however, we understand it’s still a work in progress. We get 10,000-12,000 UK visitors per year and want to increase that to 15,000 in the short term. Ideally I would like to see a 6-10% year-on-year growth.”
Out of the UK, St Kitts is served by British Airways, which operates from Gatwick on Wednesdays and Saturdays via a short stopover in Antigua. “We are looking to increase this number of flights and have been in talks with British Airways regarding this,” Grant added.
Marketing St Kitts to the trade remains an important facet of the tourism authority’s mission and Grant revealed that its budget has been “increasing bit by bit every year”.
“It’s all about getting maximum exposure with the limited resources that we have,” he said.
With a host of boutique properties and the St Kitts Marriott Resort already available – and the new Park Hyatt St Kitts which opened in November – clients should have plenty of choice when it comes to a place to stay, explained Grant.
And the minister was adamant the latter will have far-reaching positive implications.
“We are expecting it to do really well. I’ve visited the property several times throughout the construction process and I think it’s going to bring the type of investors that we want to attract.”
However appealing liming may be, it is the island’s multitude of attractions that prove to be most popular with tourists, said Grant. St Kitts is home to several historical sites as well as the St Kitts Scenic Railway, which, Grant informed me, takes visitors on a three-hour round-island journey.
“We call ourselves the quintessential Caribbean and we want visitors to engage with the locals. We are a warm and friendly people and want to let the market know that St Kitts is open for business.”