The Federation of St Kitts and Nevis is leading a new travel and tourism age in 2021. While other resourceful countries continue to struggle with COVID-19 and its many variants, the small dual-island nation has become a success story for how travel can be managed safely and responsibly. St Kitts and Nevis first reopened its borders on October 31st. After three months of international visitors, the islands have only reported roughly 40 cases of the virus, no community spread and zero deaths. Lindsey F.P. Grant, the Minister of Tourism, Transport and Ports, spoke to the Caribbean Journal about how the nation achieved this.
According to Minister Grant, St Kitts and Nevis has one of the most complete and comprehensive travel requirements in the Caribbean. The dual islands ask visitors to take a PCR test within 72 hours of arrival, utilise the contract tracing app for the first 14 days with obligatory quarantine in an approved hotel.
"We have been open for three months and have been welcoming visitors from around the world to our beautiful islands. Tourism is slowly but surely rebounding. Globally, there has been a recent slow down due to the emergence of the variant strains of COVID-19, and we are experiencing that along with everyone else. But the fact remains – we are continuing to welcome visitors with every incoming flight," Minister Grant said.
Before the pandemic, St Kitts and Nevis enjoyed a budding tourism industry that attracted various demographics to the islands. The Federation is a hotspot for yachters looking for a hideaway location with state-of-the-art docks that can host superyachts of up to 106m. Additionally, the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association recognised St Kitts and Nevis as a marquee destination after attracting one million passengers for two consecutive years.
Minister Grant highlighted that "Cruise has been a great success for us. We reached the one million passenger mark in 2018, and again in 2019, we were on track to reach this milestone again in 2020 before COVID-19 set in. The success of the roll-out of the vaccines in the US, the UK and Europe will help cruise resume to St Kitts and [the] Caribbean. So we wait patiently and are optimistic it will return."
St Kitts and Nevis' Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme has been pivotal in developing the islands' tourism. Revenue generated under the Programme was responsible for constructing a second cruise pier on the islands that can accommodate three world-class vessels.
Established in 1984, St Kitts and Nevis' CBI Programme is the world's first – and longest-standing – economic citizenship programme. It empowers wealthy foreign investors and their families to acquire a second citizenship once contributing to the Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF). The fund is hailed as the most straightforward and fastest route to a second citizenship. Investments made to the SGF are channelled into important development projects on the islands, from education to healthcare to tourism.
Once undertaking the diligent multi-tiered vetting process, successful applicants gain citizenship, which comes with a plethora of benefits. This includes visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel to 156 countries and territories, the right to live, work and study in the nation and lastly, the option to pass down citizenship for generations to come, securing one's future legacy and that of their families.