From Budget 2020
Only 35% of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ room stock is located on mainland Saint Vincent, and the single largest component of that stock is in apartments. Excluding apartments, the data show that the islands of the Grenadines are home to almost 75% of the national stock of hotels, resorts, guesthouses and villas. Our current airlift of twice-weekly flights from Air Canada, Caribbean Airlines and American Airlines has more seats than we have beds on mainland Saint Vincent.
Airlines and tour operators frequently ask how many rooms are located within a 45 minute drive of a country’s airport. Including apartments, there are fewer than 1,000 registered rooms on mainland Saint Vincent. By contrast, Antigua and Barbuda has almost 4,000 rooms and Saint Lucia has over 5,000. Further afield, Barbados and the Cayman Islands are home to roughly 7,000 rooms each, and the Bahamas has over 17,000.
Simply put, to leverage fully the developmental potential of tourism in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, we need more rooms. Tourism Authority data indicate that room stock in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines grew by 5% between 2017 and 2018. In percentage terms, that growth was second only to Saint Lucia within the OECS, and reflects the growing belief of our private sector in the potential of hotels, villas and apartments. But incremental growth is insufficient. We must raise our ambition and lift our game.
The Government and the private sector have embarked on an ambitious plan to double the room stock on Saint Vincent within three years. That means adding 1,000 rooms. As promised, almost 350 of those rooms will be built by the Government, in the form of the new Marriot resort and Holiday Inn Express hotels. The Black Sands Resort at Peters Hope will add another 400 rooms.
The Royal Mill Hotel at Ratho Mill will be a 200-room facility, while the recently commenced The View, and Myah’s Luxury Suites – a boutique business hotel – will add 50-plus. The likely refurbishment and reopening of the resort at Buccament Bay will add over 250 rooms to the mix.
These hotels, totalling almost 1,200 rooms, are scheduled to be operational at various points between 2021 and 2023, directly employing almost 1,500 Vincentians. We fully expect the continued steady expansion of existing hospitality operators over that time period, meaning that our three-year 1,000 target maybe both ambitious and conservative. One thousand five hundred additional rooms on mainland Saint Vincent by 2023 is a distinct possibility.
The Government has been reliably advised that there are multiple, credible, expressions of interest for the closed hotel at Buccament Bay. We are more than hopeful about a positive conclusion to on-going negotiations on this matter in the near future, and we eagerly await the final determinations from the investors and the trustees of the property.
These rooms will attract additional flights and larger planes from more distant points of origin, connecting Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to more of the world.