In the last few days Lindsay Grant, Tourism Minister for the Caribbean islands of St Kitts and Nevis, launched two yacht plans that jointly propose a significant expansion of the leisure marine sector.

The announcement was made at Christophe Harbour, which has become the prime yachting asset in St Kitts for superyachts up to 91m (300ft). Minister Grant announced a ‘Yachting Strategy Plan’ and the ‘Yacht Implementation Plan 2017-2022’. He stated: “These plans mark another milestone in the tourism journey.”

Grant said the two plans would provide a guide to expanding the yachting sector in the islands. They are based on a 2014 study conducted by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. One key area identified for particular attention is marina and yachting services.

The Minister referred to Dr Len Ishmael, former ambassador to the Eastern Caribbean States Mission, who suggested: “The local yachting sector is a niche market, which is ripe for investment and offers an avenue through which we can promote our federation and attract new business.”

Grant added: “Considering our natural endowments, the government of St Kitts and Nevis is equally confident that our nation is naturally positioned to take advantage of this niche market and has identified the yachting sector as a strategic priority area for development.

“When the medium-to- long-term benefits of the establishment of marinas such as Christophe Harbour, berthing facilities and boat yards are considered, it translates into economic spin-offs that pay dividends not only for our local entrepreneurs and ancillary businesses.”

He suggested that expansion of the yachting sector also has implications for improved standards of living for citizens and an enhanced profile for St Kitts and Nevis as a premier yachting destination to hold annual marine-related activities.

The two plans, which are linked to the St Kitts Tourism Sector Strategy and Action Plan, will set out a roadmap for expanding the yachting sector over the next five years. The Minister indicated that they would “essentially set forth actionable priorities and strategic plans for development of our yachting sector.”

In 2015 and 2016, Christophe Harbour marina experienced a rise in superyacht visits of 60% and 20%, respectively.