Basseterre, St. Kitts – A broad cross-section of the public and private sectors, tourism stakeholders and local tourism and government officials, including Prime Minister Hon. Dr. Denzil Douglas, gathered Saturday evening at premiere tourist attraction and UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, for the 11th Annual tourism Awards Banquet.

In his Opening Address for the event, Minister of Tourism & International Transport and Chairman of the CTO Council of Ministers, Senator Ricky Skerritt said, “I particularly enjoy coming to this annual event because it always brings together some of our most upbeat and positive tourism ambassadors. All of us here tonight love tourism in some way and are committed to improving our island destination. We only have to look around us to be reminded of the outstanding, hardworking and hospitable people who operate everyday on the front lines and to realize that the most successful tourism providers are those who genuinely enjoy serving the needs of others and empowering their associates.”

Emphasizing the importance of tourism, keynote speaker and President of the Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA), Mr. Joseph Forstmayr stated, “There has to be a strong consensus of our leaders and the public so that travel and tourism will receive the full support it needs as the Caribbean’s most vital export industry. It is the fastest way to create jobs, grow the economy and generate income for all. Every citizen needs to understand that, whether or not he or she works directly in the tourism areas, every tourist’s dollar brings economic and social benefits to every level of our society.”

Eight individuals and businesses were honored for their significant contributions to the development of St. Kitts’ tourism industry. This year’s winners are:

Category: Entity/Individual:
1. Legend of the Industry Award Mrs. Hilary Wattley
2. Pillar of the Industry Award St. Kitts Marriott Resort
3. Pillar of the Industry Award (individual) Mr. Kishu Chandiramani
4. National Champion Award Mr. Kim Collins
5. Achievement of Excellence Award The Beach House
6. Environmental Excellence Award Parks & Beaches Unit
7. Employee of the Year Award Ms. Mary Matthew
8. Award of Excellence Mr. Thenford Grey

The 11th Annual Tourism Awards Banquet was organized by the St. Kitts Tourism Authority in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism & International Transport. One of the major highlights of St. Kitts’ annual Tourism Month, the Tourism Awards Banquet serves to recognize the outstanding efforts of various island businesses and individuals from both the public and private sectors as well as to encourage the creation of uniquely Kittitian visitor experiences and distinctive service elements that enhance the island’s competitive positioning in the global tourism marketplace.

St. Kitts’ Tourism Month is a series of special events and activities held in November with the purpose of increasing public awareness of the importance of tourism to St. Kitts and the various opportunities for individuals in the industry. Tourism Month has grown in importance over the years as the island has shifted its focus from sugar production to tourism and other service-oriented business as the main economic driver.

St. Kitts was named a top destination for 2011 by both AOL Travel and British Airways. It also ranked #1 (along with Nevis) in a list of the 16 Best Caribbean Vacations by US News & World Report. Located in the northern Leeward Islands of the Caribbean, it offers a diverse tourism product developed from the destination’s natural beauty, cultural heritage and rich history. The island’s stunning variety of tourism attractions include hiking through the tropical rainforest, riding the scenic railway that connects the island’s former sugar plantations, visiting the Caribelle Batik factory, touring Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, the only man-made UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Eastern Caribbean, and more traditional vacation pastimes such as watersports, golf, shopping, tennis, gourmet dining, gaming at St. Kitts’ exclusive casino or simply relaxing on one of the island’s sandy beaches. Accommodations range from intimate plantation inns to larger hotels and resorts.

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