From The Floor: St. Kitts Tourism Authority
Ellison ‘Tommy’ Thompson, CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority, speaks to Routes.
What are the major recent successes at your organization?
Having just dropped our COVID-19 protocols and opened the island to both vaccinated and unvaccinated visitors on Aug. 15, 2022, our most significant success was to attract service from all airlines that served the island pre-pandemic. On Sept. 20, to support and grow demand, we launched a new brand campaign and airline cooperation marketing initiative that invites visitors to “Venture Deeper” into our authentic island experiences. This aligns with what travelers are looking for post COVID and showcases the diversity of our product and stories of our people.
This year, St. Kitts hosted the 24th annual Music Festival after a two-year hiatus bringing 4,000 international visitors to see world-renowned musicians, contributing $14 million to the local economy and more than 2,000 seasonal jobs. The destination hosted Restaurant Week in July, highlighting chefs, restaurants and farmers from across the islands and this year’s main ingredient: sweet potatoes. St. Kitts also won the title of Caribbean’s Leading Dive Destination 2022 at the 29th World Travel Awards.
What are your main strategic ambitions in the short, medium and long-term?
In the short-term, we’re seeking to increase the frequency of service and capacity from those carriers now serving St. Kitts to reach pre-pandemic levels; finalize service with a new regional carrier; and finalize approval from all airlines to utilize the KayanJet Terminal for departing passengers.
In the medium-term, we hope to attract additional air service from our existing gateways; continue to build regional lift; and increase room count through new hotel build. Longer-term, our ambitions are to expand the number of gateway markets with deeper penetration into the Northeast, Midwest and West Coast markets; increase the number of carriers serving the destination and expand into the South American market.
We are innovating our tourism offerings to meet traveler demand, including highlighting ecotourism and sustainability across St. Kitts’ accommodations and excursions on the island. The destination is also keen on presenting St. Kitts as a leader in the Caribbean culinary and rum space.
What is your main goal in attending Routes World 2022?
St. Kitts is aiming to not only create new partnerships at Routes World 2022 but re-establish and maintain relationships with partners that have lapsed due to the pandemic over the past two and a half years.
St. Kitts is also looking for new ways to bring travelers from different areas of the world to the destination and this conference is an opportunity to seek out those potential partners.
More specifically we look forward to:
- Leverage the exceptional networking occasions offered at World Routes to keep St. Kitts top of mind and in the consideration set of decision makers at the airlines worldwide
- Meet and develop relationships with the network planning representatives from the airlines
- Meet and engage with the global thought leaders who are impacting and driving change in the industry