Basseterre, St. Kitts, January 27, 2024 (SKNIS): The Honourable Dr. Terrance Drew, Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, in his recent appearance on the January 24th edition of InFocus on ZIZ Radio and Television, announced a remarkable upsurge in the Federation’s tourism sector. This growth, marked by a significant increase in both air and sea passenger arrivals in 2023, compared to the previous year, is a direct result of the strategic lifting of COVID-19 restrictions and the government’s proactive investment in tourism.
In 2022, St. Kitts and Nevis welcomed 113,154 air passengers. This number soared to 160,712 in 2023, marking an increase of 47,558 passengers. Flight arrivals also saw an upsurge, from 4,728 in 2022 to 5,918 in 2023, an increase of 1,190 flights.
“These are significant increases because of our policies and approach to open the country and to aggressively put policies in place to get more people into St. Kitts and Nevis,” Prime Minister Dr. Drew emphasised. “So the numbers speak for themselves – we went out, got new flights… hotel occupancy is up, more people are coming into St. Kitts and Nevis as a result of that.”
Reflecting on the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Drew noted the critical decision made on August 7, 2022, to remove travel restrictions after a careful review of scientific data.
“What we did on August 07, 2022, to open up the country was very important in terms of the recovery of the tourism product,” said Dr. Drew, adding that these proactive measures were key in avoiding a worse economic deficit and contributed to the tourism sector’s rapid recovery.
The cruise ship industry also saw remarkable growth. In 2022, 490,267 passengers arrived by sea, which increased to 760,354 in 2023 – an increase of 270,097 passengers, over a quarter million. Sea passenger traffic also grew significantly, from 8,478 in 2022 to 21,500 in 2023, with the number of vessels increasing from 1106 to 1806.
Dr. Drew noted the importance of passenger numbers over the number of ships.
“… The number of cruise ships is not as important as the number of people who come because you can have a lot of ships and they can come empty, but you can have few ships with a lot of people which will have a greater impact on the economy,” he said.
The prime minister also announced the expansion of services by major airlines such as American Airlines, United Airlines, Air Canada, British Airways, and regional carriers like InterCaribbean Airways, Caribbean Airlines, and Winair. Dr. Drew said that this expansion, particularly in intra-Caribbean travel, has been identified as a significant contributor to the increased tourist inflow.
Dr. Drew commended the Honourable Marsha Henderson, Minister of Tourism, and her team for their significant work in driving these impressive results. He noted that this substantial growth in tourism is a testament to the government’s resilience and strategic planning, positioning the Federation as a leading Caribbean destination.