St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Tourism, Culture and Sports Minister Cecil “Ces” McKie says he was very pleased with his country’s promotion during last week’s Caribbean Week in New York.
Mc Kie told Caribbean Life, in an exclusive interview, at the Friends of Crown Heights Educational Center in Brooklyn, that St. Vincent and the Grenadines stands to benefit significantly from bilateral discussions he had with other regional countries, as well as discussions with other tourism stakeholders, such as tour operators, agencies, and hotel and tourism executives.
In addition, he said the multi-island state was further promoted in various workshops, seminars, conferences, discussions, debates and presentations, among others, under the auspices of the Barbados-headquartered Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), organizer of Caribbean Week in New York.
“These gave us an opportunity to network with agencies and organizations, and also gave us an opportunity to promote the tourism product in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Mc Kie said. “It was very successful.”
He said he was successful in promoting the country as a “very varied” destination, pointing to products in ecotourism – such as hiking along the various trails and climbing La Soufriere volcano – lovely waterfalls, including the Dark View and Trinity Falls; bird watching; agro-tourism; sailing and diving; black and white sand beaches; Vincy cuisine; and other tourist attractions, such as the Botanical Gardens, considered the “oldest and best” in the Western Hemisphere.
Mc Kie also pointed to the tourism ministry’s “Do 32 Campaign,” which allows visitors to “have 32 experiences in one destination.”
“We have 32 islands and cays,” he said. “We have it all.”
The tourism minister said the ministry is working towards implementing a “Water Week” in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and that he participated in workshops and seminars on Water Sports during Caribbean Week.
Additionally, he said the Vincentian delegation, which also comprised chief executive officer of the Tourism Authority, Glen Beache, used Caribbean Week to hold discussions with officials of three United States airlines and one Canadian airline, as potential carriers when the Argyle International Airport comes on stream next year.
While declining to identify the airlines, Mc Kie said the executives stressed the importance of having “regulations and standards in place across the tourism sector.”
“With the completion of the (international) airport, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, certainly, will take off,” he said.
“We have to utilize opportunities and forums like these to further promote our cause,” he added, referring to Caribbean Week.
Mc Kie said he, his Caribbean counterparts and CTO officials also held discussions with executives at the Miami-based Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, aimed at increasing visits to the region, including St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“Overall, the discussions were encouraging, and the way forward has been made clearer in terms of strengthening the operations of the CTO,” he said.
Among other things, Caribbean Week in New York featured a gospel concert; celebrity chef program; art exhibition; student colloquium (won by defending champions Bronx-based Monroe College on the Garifuna culture and heritage in St. Vincent and the Grenadines); Caribbean Fashion Tourism; OneCaribbean Vacation Mart and Romance Pavilion; Rum & Rhythm Benefit and Auction; Diaspora Forum; and Caribbean Media Marketplace.