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St Kitts And Nevis Transformed Into Leading Cruise Destination

by Phillip Morton, Investors

25 February 2013

Saint Kitts and Nevis has highlighted the dramatic improvement seen in the cruise tourism sector in the past six years, with a ten-fold increase in passenger spending, a four-fold increase in arrivals, and record-high customer satisfaction on the back of government initiatives to foster the industry's development.

A new study from the US research firm Business Rearch and Economic Advisors (BREA) places Saint Kitts and Nevis among the highest-rated Caribbean destinations for cruise tourism, against a number of benchmarks. A survey of passengers found that 74% were extremely or very satisfied with their overall St. Kitts on-island experience, compared to just 47% in the 2005/2006 cruise year.

For the 2011/2012 cruise year, results of the study show that St. Kitts ranked second, of twenty-one Caribbean destinations, in terms of passenger satisfaction and second in terms of passengers reporting that their visit to St. Kitts had met or exceeded their expectations.

St. Kitts also ranked third in the Caribbean in passenger satisfaction with their shore excursion, fourth in average expenditure per passenger and sixth in total cruise passenger expenditures.

“St. Kitts’ recent outstanding performance in the cruise sector is directly attributable to several initiatives undertaken by Government following the decision to end sugar production in 2005,” said Richard Skerritt, Minister of Tourism and International Transport. “The improvements in downtown Basseterre, the development of shops, restaurants and key attractions, and the increasing in the number of certified taxi and tour operators in anticipation of demand growth, have clearly had a very positive impact on the experience that St. Kitts offers to visitors."

Skerritt also pointed to the role of the St. Christopher Tourism Authority Prescribed Areas Act, which he said, “ushered in the establishment of a greater focus on standards, which were integral to the phenomenal success achieved by St. Kitts in a relatively short time.”

BREA reports substantial growth in cruise passenger arrivals to St. Kitts, which increased from 117,000 in the 2005/2006 cruise year to 629,000 in the 2011/2012 cruise year, an increase of more than 400%, markedly higher than the 13% average increase over the six-year period across the Caribbean region.

Average per passenger expenditures in St. Kitts have almost doubled since 2006, while average expenditures across the Caribbean have actually declined by 2%. Average per passenger spend in St. Kitts was measured at USD57.40 in the 2006/2006 cruise year, 40% below the Caribbean average, but increased to USD108.90 in the 2011/2012 cruise year, 14% above the Caribbean average.

Together, direct cruise tourism spending has increased from USD6.7m to USD70.6m over the six-year period.

TAGS: marine

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