EU funds national parks project
June 16, 2006

EU funds national parks project

Limited financial resources have always been a challenge to the Ministry of Tourism, but on Friday, June 9, much needed aid came to the ministry courtesy the European Union, with emphasis on the establishment of a national parks management system as well as the development of 20 tourism recreational sites.{{more}}

An agreement was signed at the Ministry of Finance and Planning at 9 a.m. between the European Union and the Government of St.Vincent and the Grenadines to implement the tourism development project immediately. To this end, the EU representatives presented a cheque for EC$16 million while the government will contribute an additional EC$2,356,241.

Some of the sites that will be developed throughout the country include the Falls of Baliene, Layou Petroglyphs sites, the Botanic Gardens, Rawacou, Owia Salt Pond, Rabacca and the Black Point recreation site. Most of the development work at the sites entails the construction of welcome booths, toilets, parking and picnic facilities and trails.

Amos Tincani, European Union Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean in his address, said the implementation of the project would help the country in its programme to diversify the economy of St.Vincent and the Grenadines.

He said it will also help with the further development of this country’s tourism strategy. He noted that the EU tried to develop the programme based on the experience of a successful project piloted in Dominica.

Following the signing of the agreement on behalf of the government, Laverne Grant, Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Youth and Sports, stated that the Tourism sector is one of those targeted to provide a steady and sustainable economic growth.

She said the project has come on stream at a time when the ministry has taken the initiative to concentrate on the development of its tourism product.

“We at the ministry believe that a satisfied visitor will always return to SVG or that the visitor will encourage someone else to visit,” she emphasized.

Grant cited the provision of jobs in the rural areas as another important aspect of the project.

Also present at the signing was Director of Planning, Laura Anthony-Browne and Director of National Parks, Nigel Weekes.

With regard to security at these sites, Weekes said the community would be playing an integral part in their management.

The project will seek to address certain constraints identified as being critical to the further development of the tourism sector, particularly as this relates to the Government’s policy of spreading the benefits of the tourist expenditure, especially within the communities previously affected by the decline in banana production.

The EU contribution comes out of Stabex allocations, which provide compensation for loss of export earnings on certain agricultural products on which countries’ economies are dependent and which are affected by fluctuations in price or quantity of both these factors.