Our Readers' Opinions
March 5, 2013

Economic sustainability – SVG – Part 2

Tue Mar 05, 2013

Editor: As highlighted before, an international airport is promised to bring faster and easier air travel. With this in mind, wouldn’t it be easier to export locally grown and made produce to other parts of the world, with the idea of reducing the cost and quantity of imported goods? It is my hope that this will instigate farmers to generate better farming practices, whether arable or pastoral and encourage others who may be unemployed and having the ability to earnestly participate in the trade rather than resort to praedial larceny.{{more}}

I anticipate that the Ministry of Agriculture has in place or is in the process of instituting a special unit that accommodates a new impetus for the international market that would become available upon the completion of the international airport. It should aim to train and equip farmers with types of crops for the foreign market; educate them on the standard and quality of goods expected internationally and auxiliaries to trade.

In continuing, St Vincent and the Grenadines is attempting to prioritize tourism as its main income earner and what better way to promote this than an international airport? Yet, how developed are our tourist destinations? Apart from the Grenadine islands, does St Vincent benefit much from tourism? Being a tropical country, St Vincent and the Grenadines enjoys a warm climate whether the season is wet or dry. So far, the arrival of tourists is only greatest during the months of December to March — the winter months and June and July. How is tourism expected to bring in vast income when it blooms for approximately six months and plays hide and seek throughout the rest of the year?

A mechanism needs to be tackled to attract tourists all year round. This should encompass every possible area that would showcase what St Vincent and the Grenadines has to offer. For example, arts and craft, local cuisine, sports, cultural expressions and the natural environment should be treated with utmost importance. Another crucial aspect is the exposure that locals provide. The advertisements displayed in magazines, newspapers and tourist websites can sometimes overdo or under do the truth. Yes, it is a means of acquiring much attraction, but one needs to realise that if tourists are to come here anticipating much and leave dissatisfied, the fate of the tourism industry will surely become extinct.

Not only should the ‘tourist spots’ be kept clean and in order, but the general public should make the effort to keep the country clean, institute cleaning programs in schools, so that children can learn this at an early age. A dirty environment is not likely to attract many visitors. Likewise, the behaviour of locals needs to be improved upon. How would you feel if you visited a country for the first time, only to be welcomed with foul language, beggars, and are under constant watch of persons with criminal intentions who may stereotype you for one reason or the other? Is this what a ‘land of the blessed’ should be? One can be certain that these visitors would go back with disdainful remarks and definitely not recommend anyone visiting here soon.

Another greatly expected outcome of the international airport is more educational benefits and better employment opportunities. With all due respect to the inventor of this idea, looking at the present situation of unemployment in the country, I find this quite hard to believe. There are numbers of individuals who have obtained undergraduate or graduate degrees, not to mention secondary and tertiary, and have returned home, only to be told that there is no vacancy, or the country just doesn’t have the money for employment at the moment. What is the purpose of the education revolution and the aim to have a university graduate in each household by the year 2025 if funds are unavailable to reward their efforts? Are these initiatives effective for economic sustainability?

There is no doubt that many countries are faced with foreign debt, but there is a problem if these debts accumulate to greater amounts than that of the country’s economy. With the excuse of the unavailability of revenue in the country, how can an international airport contribute to the development of more jobs, promote educational benefits and pilot its own ship all at the same time? At this juncture, I hope that our leaders have not left God out of the equation for this high-minded venture. To allow success in any area of life, He must be the centre of our plans not our selfish desires for more power. In light of this, I look forward to seeing a more rejuvenated approach from the officials and staff of the various ministries, including the general public who are directly involved in the delicate matter of sustaining our economy…

Additional discussion in part 3.

Elizabeth Bullock