Saturday, April 2, 2016

What You Will See On Welcome Tours St Kitts

By George Richardson

Most people go to the Caribbean islands for the sunshine, sandy beaches, and breath-taking scenery. Others go to study medicine or to go to vet school. There are three institutions of higher learning on the island where visitors and residents can get a medical or veterinary degree in between umbrella cocktails and tanning sessions. English is the national language here, and the island has a literacy rate of 98%. There are welcome tours St Kitts to suit every interest.

Apart from medical schools, what is it about the Sugar City that sets apart from other exotic islands in the Caribbean. The 45,000 residents, many of whom are of African descent, refer to themselves as Kittians. Warner Park Cricket Stadium hosted the 2007 Cricket World Cup. Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, the largest fortress in the eastern Caribbean, is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

If you are into dormant volcanoes, this is the place for you. There are three separate groups of volcanic mountains. These are the Olivees, Verhilds, and Mount Misery ranges. The Mount Misery range contains the highest peak, which is conveniently named Mount Misery.

Owing to dwindling profits, the government shut down the sugar cane industry in 2005. Since then, tourism has emerged as the largest sector of the island economy. The trend seems to be toward vacation homes, rather than resorts. This may be one reason why the tourist element is less crowded than it is on other exotic tropical islands. Other industries propping up the economy are construction, transportation, manufacturing and agriculture of things other than sugar cane.

In an effort to boost tourism, the Shak Shak Festival was held in 1996. Renamed the St. Kitts Music Festival, it is now an annual event held in June. The event has hosted such attractions as the Royaltiez Band, Better Band, and Machel Montano. The unit of currency on the island is the East Caribbean dollar, although American dollars are also welcome.

A major employer is the Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport. Large enough to receive and handle commercial wide-bodied jumbo jets, it takes in flights from London (flight duration 11 hours), New York (flight time 6 hours), and Miami (duration 6 hours). Here, there are jobs for baggage handlers, customer services reps, and forklift drivers, among others.

A regular ferry service connects St. Kitts with its sister island, Nevis. There is also a narrow gauge railway, formerly built to connect the sugar farms with the sugar factory. The railway was built in 1812. Since 2003, double-decker, open-air carriages conduct half-hour tours lasting three and a half hours around the island.

Famous names to arise out of the tiny island nation include singer Joan Armatrading, international footballer Keith Gumbs, and Felix Dexter, actor and comedian. The island provides an ideal for trainee runners, as evidenced from the number of sprinters that hail from St. Kitts. Among them are Kim Collins, Virgil Hodge, Desai Williams, and Tiandra Ponteen. Among the more notorious alumni of St. Kitts are George Astaphan, the doctor who doped Ben Johnson with steroids, and Bertil Fox, professional bodybuilder turned murderer.

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