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Current Caribbean tourism figures vary greatly from island to island, with some destinations posting double-digit growth while others dip into the minus zone. St. Kitts is one of the Caribbean destinations showing admirable growth. Year-over-year arrivals to St. Kitts as of mid-August show an increase in traffic of 14 percent from the North American source market, with exceptional strength demonstrated in the southeast and upper mid-west, where the re-alignment of routes and schedules due to the mergers of Delta/Northwest and Continental/United have opened up new feeder markets. The island has also gotten a boost from increased weekend capacity on American Eagle via San Juan.
St. Kitts regularly conducts exit surveys of leisure travelers in the departure lounge at the island’s Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport. Key findings of the most recent wave of the airport survey, conducted last August, may give travel agents a hint at which of their clients would be likely to respond favorably to the prospect of vacationing on St. Kitts. The mean age of visitors is in the 45-54 age range. The average pre-tax income of all respondents is $140,000 and the comparable average per-person, per-day spend was $173. Overall visitor satisfaction remains high and over 90 percent indicated that they would recommend the destination to a friend.
Key findings of the island’s most recent cruise survey, conducted in March and April of this year, found that nearly half of the respondents (49 percent) purchased a shore excursion from the ship while 50 percent explored the island on their own. Among all respondents, shopping was the most frequently cited activity, at nearly 88 percent. The average per-person, per-day spend for cruise passengers was $100.
New Projects on the Horizon
Development is on track at Kittitian Hill towards a scheduled Phase One A opening in December 2012. Renowned architect Bill Bensley, who designed the Four Seasons tented camps at Chang Mai, has been added to the Kittitian Hill team and has refined the development’s master plan. The initial opening will include 90 cottages, 24 villas and the 18-hole Ian Woosnam-designed golf course. Kittitian Hill is set on a 400-acre hillside site in the northern part of St. Kitts; when complete, the project will also comprise a center for the creative arts and a destination spa featuring treatments indigenous to the island and the region.
Construction is scheduled to commence in November 2011 on a new $15 million private jet terminal at St. Kitts’ Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport, with completion scheduled for October 2012. The private jet terminal will be located west of the main airport parking apron and will have arrival and departure lounges, a business center, and related offices and processing facilities as well as a landscaped courtyard and events center.
The Beach Club at Sandy Bank Bay celebrated its grand opening this month. The 9,400-square-foot open-air venue overlooks the water and includes a swimming pool, a changing area and a covered beach bar and grill. In addition to the pool and lounge areas, the Beach Club provides direct access to Sandy Bank Bay beach and the Atlantic Ocean. The Beach Club’s architecture has an open structure defined by romantic pathway entrances, stone arches, fireplaces, private dining patios, natural-edged pools and waterfall showers. The Beach Club joins the Beach House restaurant as another dining option at Christophe Harbour.
Christophe Harbour is a luxury resort development that will fully launch in 2012. Located on 2,500 acres of the southeastern peninsula of St. Kitts, plans include a mega-yacht harbor, marina, Tom Fazio championship golf course and an impressive collection of restaurants, shops, boutiques, five-star hotels, oceanfront and hillside homesites and villas.