St. Vincent and the Grenadines named Carlos James the nation’s minister of tourism, civil aviation, sustainable development and culture following national elections last week.
James succeeds Cecil McKie who had served as minister of tourism, sports and culture since 2012. McKie retired from politics this month, said government representatives in a statement.
James identified Virgin Atlantic Airlines’ launch of service to Argyle International Airport in June of 2021 and the upcoming launch of properties from Marriott International, Holiday Inn Express and Beaches Resorts as “major projects that are coming on stream both on St. Vincent the mainland and also in the Grenadines” and priorities for territory’s tourism development. “This is going to be an exciting time,” James said.
Tiny St. Vincent is among the least-visited Caribbean destinations, attracting a relatively minuscule 72,983 visitors in 2019, according to Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) data.
Yet that figure represented a 6.7 percent increase over 2018. The international airport’s 2017 debut after nearly a decade in development sets the stage for tourism expansion in the southern Caribbean archipelago. St. Vincent also hosted 191,789 cruise passengers last year, a robust 11.9 percent increase.
The territory is noted for exceptional natural beauty and rare endemic plants and bird species. St. Vincent’s Botanical Gardens are described by tourism officials as the Western Hemisphere’s oldest.
Located in the Kingstown region, the gardens are dedicated to the conservation of rare species and feature features peaceful, lush and colorful gardens filled with tropical plants, flowers, trees and aviaries where guests can see the St. Vincent parrot, the national bird.
Travelers are also required to re-test upon arrival and quarantine for five days in a St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority-approved hotel. Visitors will be re-tested on days four and day five and continue to quarantine for nine to 16 days or until a test result is negative.