Basseterre, St. Kitts, September 22, 2016 (SKNIS): The Ministry of Tourism and the St. Kitts Eco-Park recently joined together to celebrate sugar and its rich history by holding the first Sugar Festival and Exhibition.
Minister of Tourism, Honourable Lindsay Grant, said during the September 21 event that “our history and our heritage are at the very heart of our tourism product.”
It was just over a year ago when Minister Grant spoke to the ROC (Taiwan) Ambassador, H.E. Gow-wei Chiou, and indicated to him that “with such an excellent edifice here at the Eco-Park,” it was necessary to find the means needed to drive traffic to the park to make the institution sustainable.
“In fact, I wrote to the Ambassador over a year ago indicating to him that I believe we should seek out the expertise that would see us facilitating here at the Eco-Park a mini sugar refinery and cotton ginnery so that we can showcase our history to our visitors and at the same time earn some well-deserved dollars in order to sustain the Eco-Park. Hopefully, what we are seeing here today is but the very beginning of what we would see come to fruition.”
The Minister said that for St. Kitts, the history of sugar is at the core of the tourism product.
“The entire landscape of St. Kitts is dotted with remnants of a rich sugar legacy and these all tell a very telling story,” said the Minister. “Modern travelers today are really looking for stories. They want to find ways to connect. They want to know who we are and how we became who we are.”
He said that the Eco-Park is a perfect example of agriculture and tourism being integrated in a sustainable manner and that it clearly demonstrates one of the main definitions for agritourism, which is described as activities on working farms and other agricultural settings for entertainment or educational purposes.
“Agritourism provides a variety of benefits,” said the Minister. “These include the opportunity to educate the visitors and the public about agriculture, to share agriculture heritage and rural lifestyle with visitors, to enhance the tourism appeal of the rural areas, to preserve our rural heritage and traditions, to provide job opportunities and to provide scenic beauty and landscapes. …the St. Kitts Eco-Park provides all that and much more.”
Minister Grant said that his ministry continues to focus its efforts on building a more sustainable tourism product.
“Our goal is to provide a consistently outstanding visitor experience through the sustainable development of the human, natural and cultural resources of St. Kitts in order to maximize opportunity, prosperity and the quality of life for the present and future generations of all our citizens.”
He added that his ministry recognizes that this would be better achieved through successful collaborations not only through public and private partnerships but also through public partnerships as in the case of the Sugar Festival where the Ministry offers its fullest support.
Minister Grant said that it is through educational opportunities that are afforded by activities such as the Sugar Festival, citizens will come to appreciate and understand the many opportunities that are available to them through history and through heritage.
“It is hoped that our community members will come together to develop projects, which add to the diversity of our product offerings thereby giving us a competitive advantage,” said the Tourism Minister. “As a matter of fact, in my Ministry, we believe that the community must be entrenched in the promotion of the destination, especially of our rural communities.”
The Tourism Minister said that tourism must not be seen as being centralized in the southern and eastern part of the island but must spread across every square inch of the island, positively impacting the lives of the residents and citizens.