Last year, St. Vincent and the Grenadines welcomed 8,000 visitors from Canada. Halfway into 2018, the nation has already seen a jump in arrivals by approximately three per cent.
The good news comes partly from the new capacity from Air Canada Rouge and Sunwing Airlines, the allure of a destination that has more than your typical all-inclusive offerings, and of course, as Glen Beache, CEO, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority joked, exceptional rum.
PAX chatted with the Hon. Cecil Mc Kie, Minister of Tourism, sports and culture, Glen Beache, CEO, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority; Shelley John, director of sales, Canada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Office; and Ricardo Adams, chairman, Carnival Development Corporation, during a visit to Toronto, to learn more about the destination that's been getting a lot of attention lately, especially since Prince William and Kate are rumoured to be in the area, vacationing on the private island of Mustique since last week.
A destination proud of its diversity
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is located in the southern Caribbean, between Saint Lucia and Grenada. The nation encompasses a total of 32 islands, only nine of which are inhabited, which is great news for adventurous travellers. It’s also home to La Soufrière volcano, which can be credited to lining the beaches of St. Vincent and the Grenadines with sparkling, black sand, as well as sugar white beaches.
“We expect this year to have a significant increase in arrivals, with the start of service from Air Canada Rouge flying this winter, and providing direct flights in general,” said John. “The Grenadines are different in their own right; some of them are strictly resorts, and some of them have habitants and hotels. We offer a little bit of everything to our Canadian clients, and we know that they’re looking for something new and different.”
From hiking La Soufrière, to chasing waterfalls, and even snorkelling with turtles, all in attendance Friday afternoon agreed that part of what makes St. Vincent and the Grenadines so appealing to travellers is its diverse product offerings. In a day and age where travellers crave experiential moments over curated vacations, the nation is turning heads thanks to everything it offers.
Air Canada Vacations currently offers packages to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and will introduce Thursday and Sunday flights, starting in February. Sunwing currently offers seasonal service in the summer months.
“One of the things Canadians look forward to the most is finding a place that’s not crowded, which is what St. Vincent and the Grenadines can offer,” John explained. “It’s not an area of mass tourism, nor do we intend for it to get to the stage where people have to run to the beach in search of a place to put their towels down. Most of our resorts are not large, and we don’t expect them to go overboard. Here, you’ll get less crowds, and people are asking for that.”
Festivals for every occasion
The islands are a cultural hub, and every month, it seems there’s a festival going on in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. That means that no matter which month you visit, there’s no shortage of things to do. But perhaps the most beloved festival of all happens at the end of June, and into July, when Carnival comes to town.
For a full list of festivals and events, click here!
A high-end mixture of properties
Unlike several popular Caribbean destinations, when it comes to booking a stay, travellers can expect to find a wide range of properties and accommodations, whether that means an all-inclusive, European Meal Plan, boutique, or resort. According to Beache, St. Vincent and the Grenadines are mainly known for their yachting and sailing, but with an enriched flight network, the islands are attracting more people for different reasons.
“As the destination continues to grow, I think we’ll see a lot of new styles of properties come into the mix,” Beache explained. “There are a lot of boutique hotels right now, but with the international flights coming through the airport now, we’ll start to see more interesting developments. Right now, the government is looking at another 250-room, all-inclusive hotel coming through."
"Back in the day, St. Vincent promoted itself as a high-end destination, which was mainly because of the Grenadines. There’s a large portion of family-friendly properties, and I think we have something for everybody. Now, we’re seeing a lot more interest from investors.”
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