TORONTO — Ellison “Tommy” Thompson didn’t know much at all about St. Kitts when he moved to the tiny island in January 2022. But Thompson, former Deputy Director General of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, instantly felt at home, almost as if he was right where he was supposed to be.
That is the power of St. Kitts, he told Travelweek last night at an industry event for tripcentral.ca travel advisors at Capra’s Kitchen in Mississauga. The startling beauty of the island, its majestic mountains and soothing lull of the ocean made it easy for Thompson to transition into his new role as CEO of the St. Kitts Tourism Authority earlier this year.
“St. Kitts is a magical place and you just feel it so quickly that you want to be there and, more importantly, you want to stay there,” he said. “One of the great things about it is you can go to any place on the island where the locals go and feel invited. It never feels like a staged tourist attraction, but rather a very authentic place where everybody’s welcome.”
This sense of home is what Thompson hoped to capture with St. Kitts’ new brand campaign, which he officially unveiled last night. Titled ‘Venture Deeper,’ the campaign will be rolled out across the Tourism Authority’s newly redesigned website and social media channels, as well as advertisements, out-of-home and various digital channels.
“We took the wonderful scenery and colours of St. Kitts and put them into this campaign so that people would come to understand that this is where they want to be,” said Thompson. “We took tropical green from the amazing rainforests and pastel pink from our beautiful beaches and amazing sunsets so that the destination will really resonate with you.”
The new campaign comes on the heels of the removal of all COVID-19-related restrictions in St. Kitts on Aug. 15, allowing all visitors, regardless of vaccination status, to enter without the need for pre-arrival testing or quarantine. The campaign also launches ahead of the Nov. 5 start date of Air Canada’s direct flight from Toronto to St. Kitts. And now, with Canada removing all COVID-19-related border measures on Oct. 1, this trifecta of good news positions St. Kitts for a robust winter season.
“Every time we’ve seen protocols relaxed in St. Kitts, there was a correlation with the number of visitors coming into the island. So, we think that now with all the protocols dropped we’re going to have a great deal of visitors,” said Thompson, adding that Canada traditionally ranks third among St. Kitts’ top markets, behind the United States and the Caribbean. “We met with Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations today and they’re very pleased with the load factors on the November flight. And with our new campaign dropping and Canadians travelling again, everything is going in the right direction. So now we’re just hoping for a really good snow storm!”
Heading into the all-important winter season, Thompson said the Tourism Authority will be leaning heavily on the support of travel advisors.
“We’re definitely going to be doing some fams next year into St. Kitts, plus we also do webinars to provide them with the most up-to-date information about the destination. And after tonight, which is our first in-person trade event since Covid, there’ll definitely be more events like this. And I also want to remind them about our Destination Specialist program where they can earn cash bonus incentives and more. We’re always here to provide them with whatever they need to help sell our destination.”
Here are more key points from last night’s event:
- All air carriers that served St. Kitts prior to the pandemic will once again be returning for the winter season, including Air Canada
- To promote its resumption of flights to St. Kitts, Air Canada and Air Canada Vacations will be launching seat sales and package incentives, while an unprecedented 30 consumer and trade events hosted by Air Canada will have taken place by year’s end
- Save the dates! Carnival is scheduled to take place from Dec. 24-Jan. 2, while the highly anticipated St. Kitts Music Festival will be making its grand return on June 23-25, 2023
- New properties on the island include Sunset Reef and Ramada by Wyndham
- The Tourism Authority has unveiled a new 28-page print and digital Savour St. Kitts Culinary Guide, an inspirational Kittitian Cocktail Book featuring local rums and crafted cocktails, and a pocket-sized Restaurant Guide, all of which can be utilized by travel advisors and consumers to learn about St. Kitts’ culinary scene
- St. Kitts has launched an island-wide booking incentive from Sept. 6-Dec. 16, 2022, that includes: book 7 nights, pay for 4; 1 night free; $100 F&B credit; value card delivered on check-in; discounts on tours, rentals, select restaurants and gift shops
- St. Kitts continuously updates its travel agent specials on its website, available here: https://www.stkittstourism.kn/travel-agents/specials
For more information about travel to St. Kitts, go to https://www.stkittstourism.kn/.