Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 20, 2019 (SKNIS): Increased airlift to the Robert Llewellyn Bradshaw (RLB) International Airport is a true testament to the nation’s outstanding tourism strategy, says Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Lindsay Grant, during his remarks at the 2019 Tourism Experience Awards held at the Royal St. Kitts Hotel on May 18, noting that a key component of the strategy is a buildout of airlift.
Minister Grant reported that all air arrivals from January through April 2019, are up by 14.5 percent over last year with North American arrivals even further up than that at 17.2 percent.
“This is a clear indication that our strategy is succeeding,” said the minister, adding that to continue this growth there is a specific targeted plan to increase service from existing key gateways in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Caribbean.
The minister said that the country aims to open new gateways with Saturday peak season service from Houston by United Airlines and from Washington DC by Southwest Airlines. “An expansion of mid-week peak season service from JFK by American Airlines and from Atlanta by Delta and from Newark by United are all our focus.”
He added that Chicago and Boston will also become target gateways as they feed existing non-stop flights from Atlanta by Delta and Miami by American.
Minister Grant stated that increased airlift to the RLB International Airport will be accomplished by continuing to build outstanding relationships with key airline network planners.
“Each year we meet with the airlines directly and we engage with them at the Routes Americas conferences,” he said. “To support new services, we have to grow our demand. Therefore we will be aggressively marketing in those gateways to increase awareness for our flights and for our destination.”
The tourism minister said that a strategic plan will be carried out combining digital print and spot television advertising with public relations, influencers, marketing and sales to communicate news, views and offers of the island’s brand messaging.
He added that consumers will see billboards, be targeted through online searches, find promotion offers on social media and be directed to where they can book their trip to St. Kitts and Nevis.
The minister also stated that the country will revive its successful roadshow in 2020.
“More top travel agents, tour operators, Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) planners and experiential lifestyle consumers will be targeted while supporting our niche markets of soft and adventure, golf and culinary travel,” said Minister Grant.
The Ministry of Tourism introduced the United States roadshow visiting its top source markets in 2018 and “this is part of our overall strategy for growth among visitor targets in gateways supporting airlift,” he said, adding that in 2019 the roadshow received high participation for all events in New York, New Jersey, Atlanta, Dallas and Houston.
“We hosted some of the most respected organizations in the business including Maritz Travel, the number one incentive house in the United States, AAA Travel, Classic Vacations, Meeting Plus and Cox Enterprises,” said the Minister of Tourism.