BASSETERRE, St Kitts (CUOPM) -- An economic impact study of the growth of St Kitts’ cruise tourism sector shows significant increases in cruise tourism expenditure and passenger satisfaction.
The study conducted by the US-based research firm BREA (Business Research & Economic Advisors) places St Kitts among the highest-rated destinations in the entire Caribbean in these categories for the 2011/2012 cruise year.
The study also reveals growth in cruise passenger arrivals to St Kitts of more than 400% over the past six years.
The most dramatic increases over the six-year period were in direct cruise tourism spending, which increased nearly ten-fold from $6.7 million to $70.6 million over the six-year period.
Average per passenger expenditures in St Kitts have almost doubled since 2006, while average expenditures across the Caribbean have actually declined by 2%.
Average per passenger spend in St Kitts was measured at $57.40 in the 2006/2006 cruise year, 40% below the Caribbean average, but increased to $108.90 in the 2011/2012 cruise year, 14% above the Caribbean average.
“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 Senator Richard “Ricky” Skerritt, Minister of Tourism and International Transport
“The improvements in downtown Basseterre, the development of shops, restaurants and key attractions, and the 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,” said Skerritt.
The tourism minister also pointed to the role of the St Christopher Tourism Authority Prescribed Areas Act, which he said, “ushered in the establishment of a greater focus on standards, which were integral to the phenomenal success achieved by St Kitts in a relatively short time.”
The percentage of passengers reporting that they there were extremely or very satisfied with their overall St Kitts shopping experience was 74% in the 2011/2012 cruise year as compared to just 47% in the 2005/2006 cruise year.
For the 2011/2012 cruise year, results of the study show that St Kitts ranks #2 in the Caribbean in passenger satisfaction with their overall visit and #2 in passengers reporting that their visit to St Kitts met or exceeded their expectations.
St Kitts also ranked at #3 in the Caribbean in passenger satisfaction with their shore excursion, at #4 in average expenditure per passenger and at #6 in total cruise passenger expenditures.
Concurrently, BREA reports substantial growth in cruise passenger arrivals to St Kitts, which increased from 117,000 in the 2005/2006 cruise year to 629,000 in the 2011/2012 cruise year, an increase of more than 400% as compared to an increase of 13% throughout the Caribbean over the six-year period.
The BREA study was conducted under the auspices of the FCCA (Florida Caribbean Cruise Association) to analyze the contribution of cruise tourism on the economies of 21 destinations located in the Caribbean and Central and South America, including Antigua and Barbuda; Aruba; The Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; the British Virgin Islands; the Cayman Islands; Columbia; Costa Rica; Curacao; Dominica; The Dominican Republic; Grenada; Honduras; Nicaragua; San Juan , PR; St Kitts and Nevis; St Maarten; St Vincent and the Grenadines; the Turks and Caicos; the US Virgin Islands.