According to the recently launched St. Kitts and Nevis Yachting Policy, global yachting research agency Camper and Nicholsons reports that the Caribbean yachting market has remained steady attracting charters for large yachts with longer stays.
It indicates also that most of the large yachts spend most of their time in the northeastern Caribbean, which, according to the Yachting Policy, puts the Federation in a position to capture some of the traffic.
Information disclosed during the policy launch indicates that yacht arrivals increased from 211 in 2010 to 649 arrivals in 2013.
“That is a significant increase. By October this year, we had almost surpassed what came last year with 550 yachts,” said Ricky Skerritt, the minister responsible tourism and international transport.
To encourage continued growth and development of the sector, the Yachting Policy points to several direct and indirect policies that would influence how the sector develops.
Perhaps the most pressing issue, officials agree, is that related to the procedures and processes for yacht entry and travel between St. Kitts and Nevis.
“Complaints have been made that these structures are unclear, cumbersome and duplicated,” states the policy, which proposes a computerized system of entry that would enable crews to complete online entry requirements in the territorial waters of the Federation, while taking national security into account, in what would become a 24-hour service.
The policy also calls for the simplification of taxes, duties and fees charged in the Federation’s ports, marinas and harbours, and it indicates the need for a cost benefit analysis that would result in enhanced tax and fee structures in an incentivized manner.
“The intention is to ensure that amongst Caribbean yachting destinations, St. Kitts and Nevis should become the first destination of choice of yachtspersons for provisioning, goods and services,” the policy document indicates.
Special attention is to be placed on the marketing and public relations to promote the Federation “as a serious entrant and player in the yachting sector”.
According to the policy, Government’s overseas tourism offices and agents, would be provided with pertinent information for their awareness campaigns in the marketplace.
“Government will have a strong and skilled marketing and advertising presence at all major international yachting shows, regattas and industry related events where the promotion of St. Kitts and Nevis could be undertaken,” states the policy document.
A key element that the policy addresses is that of fiscal incentives. It recognizes the private sector’s role in developing the industry, and recommends an “enabling fiscal regime to catalyze local and foreign business investment in the provision of facilities, equipment, goods and services”.
Special incentives would be geared toward the local yacht sector to “encourage locals to become owners of yachts and enable their participation in the industry”, the policy recommends.
Developing a sustainable yachting sector also requires new general and specialized skills to provide consistent high quality services. As a result, the policy highlights the need for training young people to play a role in the new sector.
Among the recommendations are the provision of grants, scholarships and bursaries to support training of nationals at regional and international institutions. This would complement a program of technical and vocational training that supports the industry.
Several other matters are raised in the policy document including the role for public sensitization, the fishing industry, cultural events and activities, emergency services and a range of environmental proposals that support sustainability of the industry.
According to the policy, the appointment of a National Yachting Coordinator would help facilitate the communications and cooperation among stakeholders, and who would act as a liaison between the public and private sectors.
A 23-member National Advisory Committee on Yachting is also to be established with private and public sector representation. This committee would advise the Minister on “all matters pertaining to the development of the yachting sector, gaps in effectiveness or implementation of the policy”. The Committee can also recommend “corrective measures” required to resolve various issues.
According McClean Hobson, the director of maritime Affairs, a strategic plan is being developed that would provide methodologies for implementing the policy recommendations.