St Vincent tourism minister hails Sandals resort as ‘perfect model’

Tourism bosses from St Vincent and the Grenadines have hailed the destination’s new Sandals resort (pictured), describing it as “transformational” and “an important addition”.

The 301-room all-inclusive property opened in March on the main island of St Vincent – the brand’s 18th development in the Caribbean.

Tourism minister Carlos James told Travel Weekly: “Sandals is a very important addition to the tourism product on the main island of St Vincent.

“We are known for the Grenadines islands such as Mustique but now the main island is opening up more.

“It is a strategic partnership, utilising this wonderful brand to set the benchmark of how we want to develop – not with big, mass tourism and high-rise properties.

“We want to develop in a sustainable way. The Sandals concept is the perfect model for development.

“Sandals is such a flagship brand, it can drive that tourism change.

“And Sandals 2.0 sets the benchmark for future Sandals resorts.”

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Sandals opens resort in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

He said other luxury brands plan to open St Vincent properties, such as Marriott International, while the Black Sands Resorts is set to be completed by the end of 2025.

“Importantly, we have lots of family-run boutique hotels that complement the ultra-luxury brands, accommodating the right mix of people,” he added.

He emphasised the diversity of the destination, suggesting consumers could come for a Sandals holiday and add on an island-hopping extension to explore the Grenadines.

The St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourist Office in the UK is working with the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, representation firm Destination Representation and Sandals to train travel trade professionals, and an updated SVG online travel training course is available with Online Travel Training (OTT).

The office recently ran an online marketing campaign in the UK with Amadeus to promote the fact that SVG was hosting matches for the 2024 ICC Men’s T20 World Cup – and teams playing in St Vincent stayed at the Sandals resort during the tournament.

Natasha Anderson, Europe sales director at the SVG office in the UK, said: “The opening of Sandals SVG has been transformational for SVG’s tourism product, adding much-needed rooms on the main island, St Vincent.”

The tourist board is also promoting the new St Vincent and The Grenadines (SVG) Special Marriage Licence e-portal. It went live earlier this month, enabling couples to submit their applications electronically.

They can provide the necessary documentation, pay fees and track the status of their application online.

“This modern approach aims to improve accessibility and reduce the time and effort required to obtain a special marriage licence in SVG,” said Anderson.

“Couples who use this method will now have more time to enjoy their destination wedding, as they are no longer required to physically visit a registry, which is still the case in many other countries.

“Essentially, couples can travel to SVG and, within 24 hours, be at a resort signing documents to be the newest wedded couple in the destination.”

As well as online and in-person training, the tourist board is working with key tour operators to boost SVG sales, added Anderson.

Last month, a luxury island-hopping fam trip hosted participants from Best At Travel, Caribtours, Elegant Resorts, Lusso Travel, Tropic Breeze, Tropical Sky and Turquoise Holidays.

Anderson also highlighted the importance of sustainable tourism to the destination, saying: “SVG’s economy is heavily reliant on both tourism and agriculture. It is crucial for us to prioritise sustainable tourism by promoting eco-friendly practices to ensure the long-term viability of these industries.

“This has been done by preserving our natural beauty and biodiversity for ecological balance and overall environmental health, thereby making it more attractive to our visitors.

“Advocating for and actively promoting community-based tourism is absolutely essential for us as well.”

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