Tiny St. Kitts & Nevis enjoys hotel, cruise-ship bonanza
The twin-island nation of St. Kitts & Nevis — one of the world’s smallest independent countries — will add some 1,000 upper-end hotel rooms to inventory during 2013, said Prime Minister Denzil Douglas.
Planned construction projects include the Imperial Bay Beach & Golf Residences at Half Moon Bay; expansion and upgrading of the rooms at the Marriott, including new facilities for the Marriott Residences and the new Marriott Towers; the construction of the Park Hyatt Hotel at Banana Bay Peninsula and construction of the Koi Resort.
But the real growth in St. Kitts tourism is expected to come from cruise ships.
A study conducted by Pennsylvania-based Business Research & Economic Advisors (BREA) places St. Kitts among the highest-rated Caribbean destinations for cruise tourism expenditures and passenger satisfaction during the 2011-12 cruise year.
The study also showed more than 400 percent growth in cruise passenger arrivals to St. Kitts over the past six years. Since 2006, average per-passenger expenditures have nearly doubled, from $57.40 in 2005-06 to $108.90 in 2011-12 — which is 14 percent above the Caribbean average, according to the study.
“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 Ricky Skerritt, the country’s minister of tourism.
“The improvements in downtown Basseterre, development of shops, restaurants and key attractions, and increasing 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,” he said, noting that the percentage of cruise passengers saying they were extremely or very satisfied with their overall St. Kitts shopping experience was 74 percent in the 2011-12 season, compared to just 47 percent six years earlier.
During that time frame, cruise arrivals have jumped from 117,000 to just over 629,000 — an increase of 400 percent compares to the regional average of 13 percent during the same period. The BREA study was conducted under the auspices of the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCAA).
Meanwhile, KRL Hospitality announced the new multimillion-dollar Koi Resort & Residences. Nick Haque, the company’s CEO, said Koi Resorts is already established in the United States, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
The chain’s newest property — which consists of a government-approved citizenship by investment scheme in partnership with the Koi brand — will be located on 16 acres of beachfront property along Half Moon Bay, adjacent to the Royal St. Kitts Golf Club.
Tourism officials on Nevis say they’ll continue to market their 36-square-mile island as a small luxury cruise destination.
Mark Brantley, deputy premier of Nevis and minister of tourism, said at the Sea Trade Cruise Conference in Miami there would be no multimillion-dollar investments to expand existing cruise facilities on his island, which is home to 12,000 people.
“We do not have any intentions to build any cruise facilities in Nevis,” he said. “We feel that our focus is still predominantly land-based tourism, but where we can access either day-trippers from St. Kitts or alternatively we can access the small high-end cruises. That is certainly the way we wish to go.”