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ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES — Stayover visitor arrivals from Canada to St. Vincent and the Grenadines are up more than 10% for the first nine months of 2017, and numbers from this market will only continue to climb with Air Canada Rouge’s new direct flights into Argyle International Airport, starting Dec. 14.
Next week’s Air Canada Rouge flight will be met on arrival by the Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph E. Gonsalves, the Minister of Tourism, Cecil McKie, and CEO of the SVG Tourism Authority, Glen Beache. Air Canada Rouge’s flights out of Toronto will operate once weekly through the winter until April 12, 2018, using 136-seat A319 aircraft.
The SVG Tourism Authority promoted the destination in Toronto earlier this fall, with a campaign that included a high-visibility taxi wrap promotion on 60 vehicles. Would-be vacationers also saw ads during traffic reports on Global Television Network, and heard radio ads on stations in St. Catharines and Hamilton. The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority and Air Canada Vacations are also doing co-op marketing campaigns with local hotels.
The 10.4% increase in stayover visitor arrivals from Canada delivered 5,997 visitors to the islands, up from 5,433 in 2016. Tourism is been the main foreign exchange earner for St. Vincent and the Grenadines and accounts for approximately 20% of its GDP.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ new Argyle International Airport opened with much fanfare in February 2017. More than 130 passengers consisting of media and tourism officials flew to the new airport on a Sunwing B737-800 on Feb. 14, marking the first direct international flight out of Toronto to the new facility. The airport’s construction spanned more than eight years with a US$275 million investment. It has a 9,000-foot runway and was built to handle between 1.2 and 1.4 million passengers a year, with future extensions in mind.
When Travelweek met with Beache earlier this year, he noted that SVG is ready for more hotels, “but not too many”. Beache, CEO of the St. Vincent and The Grenadines Tourism Authority, said he has his eye on several top brands, including one that, like Beache himself, has roots right here in Toronto: Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts.