Stakeholders within the Tourism Industry have been encouraged to get their businesses ‘Tourism Approved’ in time for the cruise season which opened on November 2.
This request was made by the Ministry of Tourism during a press conference on Monday, October 31 which aimed to inform the public on the start of the cruise season and measures that will be put in place to accommodate the increase in tourist arrivals.
Quality Assurance Manager of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority (SVGTA), Nathalie Shortte explained that the licensing period for all stakeholders ran from November 1, 2021 to October 31, 2022, therefore all licences expired on October 31.
Shortte, who has responsibility for licensing taxi operators, tour operators, tour guides and those in the accommodation or short-term vehicle rental business said anyone within these five stakeholder groupings who operate a business must be ‘Tourism Approved’, according to law.
She explained that the requirement for registration for taxi operators is: a vehicle registration, driver’s licence, valid first aid and CPR certificates; and for new operators: a police record.
Once the training and assessment are successfully completed, the application will be submitted to a board of directors for approval, Shortte said.
The Quality Assurance Manager added that once approved, a pink sticker will be issued to the applicant as a means of identification that the driver is licensed to operate at the cruise ship berth as a taxi operator.
The sticker colour changes every year as it is therefore valid for only one year.
The SVGTA official emphasised that a taxi driver without the pink sticker will not be allowed to work at the Cruise Ship Terminal, while confirming that the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force will work with the Authority to ensure compliance.
Shortte said further that the tourism industry is happy to welcome stakeholders who did not renew their licenses during the pandemic.
“We have lots of calls. For those persons who did not re-license and did not come in the last two years, be inspected, be licenced.
Your Red Cross certificates would have expired, we are encouraging you to go and get your Red Cross certificates up to date and still come and get your licence to operate” for the new cruise ship season.
The re-licensing process for stakeholders generally takes place within a two-month period; but for taxis specifically, the start of inspection for relicensing began in September this year, and with the co-operation of the police, this session ran for a period of three weeks, Monday to Friday.
Shortte said “I am happy to say that of those 265 or so [taxi drivers] that we have currently licensed for the 2021-2022 period- I can happily say we have those 100%.”
Minister of Tourism, Carlos James reiterated the importance of stakeholders being licensed and said visitors very often commend taxi operators in SVG for the quality of their service and knowledge of the country.
The minister said having one of the ‘Tourism Approved’ stickers signifies that you have gone through the training and are equipped and ready for the approaching season.