BASSETERRE, St. Kitts -- The discoveries of three shipwrecks near
here dating from the 1760s could signal a new emphasis on
underwater attractions and heritage sites for visitors to St.
Dwyer Astaphan, minister of tourism, said the discovery of three
British naval vessels this spring signaled the first phase of a
project " that will look at a number of wreck sites off St.
Astaphan estimated there
are more than 1,000 shipwrecks in and around the island.
"We have put together a five-year plan to develop, document and
display the story of St. Kitts history. This discovery resuscitated
interest in our land and marine heritage sites and signals enormous
new tourism potential," he said.
St. Kitts is moving forward on a number of other fronts, as
The 648-room St. Kitts Marriott Royal Beach Resort, which opened
in February, "has created a lot of new interest in the
destination," Astaphan said. The hotel will host the fifth annual
Caribbean Conference on Sustainable Tourism Development Sept. 9 to
Caribbean Star Airlines relocated its headquarters to St. Kitts
from Antigua on June 1; sister carrier Caribbean Sun, which began
serving St. Kitts from San Juan this spring with three flights a
day, also opened administrative offices on St. Kitts.
Other developments include:
• The Port Zante cruise ship pier and marina is set to complete
an expansion program in August that will include a new welcome
The addition of a second cruise pier that can accommodate two
megaships is set for mid-2004.
• Universal Airlines, a small, scheduled carrier based in New
York with 767 service from New York's Kennedy to Trinidad and
Guyana, added nonstop, year-round Saturday service to St. Kitts on
Introductory fares are $450; packages are offered through
several operators, including Alken Tours. Commissions run from $25
to $35 per booking.
• Astaphan described US Airways' nonstop Saturday service from
Philadelphia as "highly successful"; the tourism authority also is
seeking a weekly flight from Charlotte, N.C., next winter, he
Other airlift to St. Kitts includes twice-weekly Delta flights
from Atlanta in peak season and Air Jamaica connecting flights
through Montego Bay, Jamaica.
• The St. Kitts Tourism Authority's revamped Web site, at www.stkitts-tourism.com, soon will include virtual
tours, expanded island information and a booking engine that will
direct consumers to agents.
"We want to establish a deeper bond with our partner agents and
operators through booking incentives, fam trips and sales blitzes,"