World Tourism Day 2020 is celebrated under the theme “Tourism and Rural Development”. As a multi Island destination made up of 32 Islands and cays, St. Vincent and the Grenadines is endowed with many natural resources and heritage attributes, particularly in the rural areas of the country.
The vast number of rural developments throughout the destination could be attributed to collaborative tourism planning and development.
Further, this has given us the competitive edge above other Caribbean destinations. Apart from stimulating economic growth, Tourism and Rural Development continues to play an integral part in the realization of the destination’s sustainability thrust.
Moreover, it helps to preserve the destination’s natural heritage, enables health and wellness, fosters social engagement and interaction between the private and public sector, and supports infrastructural development and improvement in our communities.
Evidently, there are various tourism product offerings available that are accessible to locals and visitors in the rural communities throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
These product offerings are not limited to the fourteen (14) tourism sites and attractions managed by the National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority which include therapeutic waterfalls, black and white sand beaches, rivers and parks.
The development of these sites has provided job opportunities to a number of persons in some rural communities, which has ultimately improved the quality of life in these rural areas. Along with the National Park Rivers Beaches and Authority, the Ministry of Tourism works closely with six (6) active community groups.
These groups are involved in the implementation of historic and cultural projects, cleanup activities, reforestation, and product development adding to the overall value of our destinations tourism offerings.
Tourism and Rural Development is encapsulated in the all year round electrifying festivals hosted in various communities around the islands such as the National Nine Mornings Festival, Greiggs Garifuna Festival, National Heroes and Heritage Day Festival, Rose Hall Cultural Festival and the Madungo Festival.
These festivals act as a livewire that network communities through social interaction, encourage the preservation of our national heritage and many traditional and indigenous foods.
Notably, there have been several infrastructural development initiatives in the rural communities that have offered the opportunity for economic growth through job creation and sustainable livelihood in construction, fishing and farming. In particularly, the Argyle International Airport, several new brand hotel construction projects and the establishment a various new recreational sites, are examples that act as an economic driver for these communities.
Also, public and private sector partnerships is a main pillar that helps to shape and harness benefits to the communities; hence, this relationship contributes to the success of Tourism and Rural Development. The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Distillers Ltd. is a prime example of how collaboration between the private sector and public sector can strengthen the Tourism Industry as they offer tour packages and support to the rural communities in different ways.
As we celebrate Tourism and Rural Development with pride, in this unprecedented season, we are reminded that together we are stronger, resilient and capable of overcoming the many challenges faced within the Tourism Industry. We are encouraged to stay positive in our attitude and action. Furthermore, as we enjoy and ‘rediscover’ our beautiful 32 islands and cays, remember to adopt and follow the protocols provided by the Ministry of Tourism in conjunction with the Ministry of Health so that recovery could be seamless