From BUDGET 2020
Budget 2020 does more for tourism than its large commitment to hotel expansion. We have made significant investments in creating new tourism sites and maintaining existing ones.
2020 will see the opening of new tourism facilities at Brighton Salt Pond, complete with gazebos, washrooms and vending areas. A similar development will take place at Villa Beach, which will also see significant enhancements to the boardwalk.
There are two initiatives in Budget 2020 that will enhance the quality of existing tourism sites and the safety of beach-going tourists and locals alike. First, Budget 2020 allocates resources for the creation of a five-person maintenance crew whose specific mandate is the upkeep and repair of tourism sites.
This crew will visit sites nationwide on a weekly basis to conduct basic maintenance and upkeep – from cleaning to basic plumbing, carpentry and repair works.
Second, Budget 2020 creates, for the first time, a staff of lifeguards, to protect beach goers. Initially, the lifeguards will be stationed at Rawacou, Brighton Salt Pond and Villa Beaches – three locales that are either heavily populated or with a history of dangerous swimming conditions. We will review this initiative next year to evaluate its effectiveness and determine whether additional beaches should be put under lifeguard protection.
Other initiatives are underway that are not immediately reflected in the antiseptic numbers of the budget documents. For example, recent travellers to AIA may have noticed that they were not required to fill out any customs or immigration forms.
The Ministries of Tourism, ICT and National Security are quietly piloting a technology-based approach to the antiquated double-sided form that travellers have been asked to complete for the past few decades. While the transition process may experience some hiccups – particularly in the important data gathering and analysis functions – we are optimistic that we are equipped to extend a hassle-free welcome to visitors.
Similarly, the Ministries of Tourism and Legal Affairs are collaborating to streamline and modernise the process by which visitors can get married in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Currently, tourists hoping to get married in the Grenadines must embark on a cumbersome and time-consuming quest that involves trips to the mainland to visit the Registry, the Attorney General’s chambers, and, occasionally, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
By modernising the existing bureaucratic impediments, we hope to make significant inroads in the lucrative destination wedding and honeymoon segments of the tourism market.
In Kingstown, the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Port Authority has decided to reconfigure its existing container storage area to erect a sidewalk café and performance space.
The café will be a welcome oasis for those cruise passengers who decide to stroll the streets of Kingstown, and has the potential to become a popular year-round watering hole for locals.