You know when you are dealing with optimists when they nickname La Soufrière, the volcano that erupted 09APR on the small Caribbean island of St. Vincent: Lala. That’s making lemonade out of some serious lemons.
But things are looking up in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, as a group of travel media learned on Wednesday during a zoom call with Glen Beache, CEO of the Tourism Authority. Canadian-born and now resident in the islands, Beache gave a frank update on the status of the islands.
Located between St. Lucia and Grenada, SVG comprises St. Vincent, by far the largest island, and a string of some 20 tiny charmers such as Mustique, Union and Bequia (“beck-wee”). Each looks like an idyllic desert island with towering palms overlooking white sand beaches and brilliant turquoise waters.
Not surprisingly, islanders’ main concern is getting back to normal – and dealing with the 18” of ash which blanketed much of the island. “We have traditionally focused on four tourism sectors,” Beache told us: “Sailing/yachting, scuba diving, romance (including destination weddings) and adventure.”
The first to come back have been diving and yachting, including charters. Frommer’s Guide to the Caribbean calls the Grenadines the best sailing waters in the entire Caribbean.
On tap are hotel re-openings and some openings, most slated for next year, including brand names that many clients know and trust: Beaches, Marriott and Holiday Inn. “We will come out of this even stronger. Lala has made us examine how we do things and we will come back better, and more competitive,” said Beache. SVG also offers clients the prestige of being to a destination their friends and neighbours have yet to see.
Beache was careful to stress that the island doesn’t wish to become overrun with visitors: “We presently have 2,200 rooms and are targeting 3,500 to 4,000. It’s all about preserving our sincerity and authenticity.”
Best of all, Air Canada plans to re-start service YYZ-SVG on Monday, September 13. As Beache put it: “Air Canada was the first international carrier to serve SVG and Canada holds a very special place in our hearts. When it comes to tourism, Canadians tend to be more adventurous.” And eager, he hopes, to discover the sun-soaked charms of SVG.