By Alexander Britell
Buoyed by increased airlift and sizzling hotel development, St Kitts and its sister island of Nevis are seeing a surge in tourism so far in 2019.
The destination has seen a 15.3 percent increase in air arrivals through the first two months of the year, according to new data from the Ministry of Tourism.
That includes a 19.3 percent jump in arrivals from North America, long the largest source market for St Kitts and Nevis.
“I am extremely pleased to see such strong increases in air passenger arrivals to our Federation for 2018 continuing into peak season 2019,” said Tourism Minister Lindsay Grant. “These numbers are a clear indication that we are gaining momentum towards reaching our goal of 150,000 stayover visitors in the next few years.”
The growth comes as more and more air carriers are either adding new flights or expanding their service to St Kitts’ Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport.
In December, Sun Country added new flights from Minneapolis, while United is running twice-weekly flights from Newark for the season.
In May, American Airlines will be launching new service from Dallas to St Kitts on Saturdays.
“We redoubled our marketing efforts in the fourth quarter of last year specifically to support our additional peak season air service and these numbers demonstrate that we have achieved very successful results,” said Racquel Brown, CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority. “With the milestone airlift arrivals recorded for 2018 and performance last year in the months of March and June nearing 30 percent growth over the same months in 2017, the significant growth measured so far in 2019 signals a rising demand for St. Kitts as a highly desirable travel destination.”
It’s a period of growth that began in earnest with the late-2017 debut of the Park Hyatt St Kitts, a halo hotel for the destination that brought the island to a new level in the luxury travel ecosystem. (That hotel was named Caribbean Hotel of the Year in last year’s Caribbean Travel Awards.)
That’s along with the growing success of the Belle Mont Farm eco-hotel, which has created a new tourism pole in the north of the island.
Brown said the destination is looking to reach the 150,000-stayover-guest number by 2021.