Monday, November 24, 2008

Searchlight on Vacations

Searchlight, a Vincy weekly newspaper, has been publishing some pieces on vacations in the caribbean, and how vincies can (and do) make them more enjoyable.

Embracing all things Vincy: Vincy Love, Vincy Flavour, Vincy Food

Vida Bernard

As we celebrate tourism week, we are cognizant of the challenges faced by the tourism industry, issues such as, but not limited to, the cost of fuel which is impacting negatively on airline operational cost; reduction in routes by airlines and cruise lines, thus limiting accessibility to certain destinations; the economic downturn in major source markets which is negatively impacting visitor arrivals to some destinations and the impact of climate change on the movement of people. Tourism Planners and other professionals must adopt a more pro-active and creative approach to the way things are done in this dynamic industry.

While the task of being creative must be led by those responsible for the development of tourism in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the involvement of the general public and more so communities that are home to our many sites and attractions is integral to the advancement of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ tourism product.

The tourism industry is important to us, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, we therefore encourage our nationals to embrace all things vincy: vincy love, vincy flavour, vincy food, these we must showcase to our visitors.

As most countries struggle to deal with the issue of rising food prices, we are in a position to produce more local foods by utilizing available agricultural lands. For private consumption, we encourage back yard gardening. In this way, we are seeking to ensure food security not only for ourselves, but also for visitors to our shores. Opportunities would be provided for our farmers, fisher folks and other cottage industry providers, our hoteliers would have the opportunity to showcase the local foods of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to their guests - Vincy flavours, vincy food.

From a cultural perspective, the culture of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has always been in the forefront however at this time when we are advancing the theme,

“Embracing All Things Vincy”, let us not just showcase Carnival; Easter Regatta; Nine Mornings and Christmas “lighting up”, but rather let us find ways of packaging and promoting the “light up” activities that take place in the various communities of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in early November as we remember our departed love ones.

A concerted effort should be made to encourage communities to revive the traditional house to house Christmas caroling that we are accustomed to; this could be an activity not just for us locals to enjoy, but also an experience for our visitors that can create lasting memories.

As the National Parks Authority and the Ministry of Tourism pursue the path of developing/upgrading sites and attractions throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines, let us take pride in upholding and protecting the work done, users of these facilities must ensure the proper use of these amenities.

Finally, the issue of cleanliness and national pride is one that cannot be over emphasized. Kingstown, our capital is seen by almost all visitors to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, are we happy and proud of Kingstown as it is? Attempts have been made over the years to “clean up” Kingstown, and within recent times we have seen such efforts being put forward again. It is the duty of all Vincentians to support efforts to “clean up” and re-organise our city in an orderly manner. Kingstown should be a place that we are proud of with its many arches and cobblestone streets, let us Embrace all things Vincy.

SVG named Best Honeymoon Island - 2008


As the Ministry of Tourism hosts its annual Tourism Week of activities, it is pleased to announce that St. Vincent and the Grenadines has once again been named Best Honeymoon Island of the year for 2008 by Caribbean World Travel Awards 2008.

The announcement was made last month by Founder and Award Winning Publisher-Ray Carmen and the award will be among a list of awards which will be broadcast on - the online interactive Caribbean world TV Channel. This will be broadcast for an entire year from October 2008-October 2009. The winning awards will also be featured in the Winter 2008 issue 61 of The Caribbean World Magazine.

The Ministry of Tourism is proud to be a recipient of such an award and congratulates accommodation properties throughout the state who helped to make this award a reality by their quality product and service to our visitors.

Storm playing his part in tourism


 "Mr. Tourist Man

" Winning essay in the Conde Nast Traveler “My Caribbean” children’s tourism essay contest by Storm Halbich of Windsor Primary School

“Hey there mister tourist man, come let me tell you a secret about my beautiful islands in the sun”. I heard that this is your first time in St Vincent and the Grenadines and that you came to get a true Caribbean experience. 

I am not going to tell you about our lush green valleys and or our majestic volcano standing four thousand and forty eight feet high. And I’m not going to talk about our fresh, juicy fruit and our delicious local dishes. I was not even going to brag about the hit movie Pirates of the Caribbean that was filmed here. Let’s not talk about the Botanical Gardens, the oldest in the western hemisphere. 

I will certainly not get into talk about our exciting national festivals like; Blues and Rhythm, Carnival and Nine Mornings. Don’t even ask about our refreshing waterfalls and inviting black and white sand beaches. Mister, if I tell you about the whales, dolphins and tropical fish swimming throughout our islands that could take all day. If you see them playing in the water it would take your breath away. 

I don’t want to start about the spectacular Grenadine islands or I’ll never stop talking. The people from Bequia say they are the best in building boats and every true sailor must touch its shores. Mustique is the island getaway of the rich and famous, can’t tell you about that because “it’s a secret” they say. You can also find Canouan, Mayreau, Palm Island and Petit St.Vincent there are some special hotels there, cruising through these islands are really amazing. 

I know you believe that my secret is the beautiful Tobago Cays, they are really spectacular and snorkeling with the sea turtles in the marine park is hard to beat. The beaches surrounding the cays are powdery white and all visitors say “can you leave us here”. But that not my big secret, no not at all.

I want to tell you about our friendly and interesting people who are always ready to welcome you to our country. Let me tell you about Tanty Muggy who mixes up herbs to fix everyone. Tourist comes from far and wide to cure aliments by her side. And what about old man Earl who takes you on a beach lime and shows you how to catch your own fish for lunch, man you will have so much fun. Grandma Vee in her wooden house will invite you in for fresh passion fruit juice and a hot slice of Banana bread, you will unbuckle your belt and beg for more. Let me carry you by Rasta Wally who will strum some sweet reggae music while we sit drinking coconut water by the seaside. So come let me take you to find the Caribbean you’ve been looking for.

Message from the Taxi Drivers Association

Angus Martin

President’s Message

To all Vincentians and visitors, let me once again as President of the SVG Taxi Drivers Association take this opportunity to greet you, and thank the Ministry of Tourism for yet another week of activities within which we can take part; and congratulate them on the hard work they have been doing. The theme: “Embracing all things Vincy”, is very appropriate at this time, when we join together with the same voice, encouraging each other to Embrace all things that are Vincy.

We as Vincentians should be proud of our small country, and what we have to offer to visitors when they come to our shores. We the members of the SVG Taxi Drivers Association view our Country as a “Treasure to hold and a Pleasure to call our own”. 

This country has some of the best scenic views in the world. Tourists are amazed by our lush green vegetation, fantastic landscape, beautiful beaches, tropical weather, and warm hospitality just to name a few. These are the things we have to embrace and love to call our own-Vincy.

Let me appeal to all Vincentians to protect the island sites and attractions, and encourage our Tourism Department to further develop them, this can create revenue for our country’s economy. 

The Taxi Drivers play a pivotal role in the economy. We sell St.Vincent and the Grenadines in the best way possible so as to make sure the tourist receives the best customer service there is, by ensuring that they are comfortable, happy and safe, in order for them to come again, and bring their friends. When this happens we build the country’s economy, the money we receive is spent right here in SVG to pay for and insure our vehicles, send our children to school, buy food for our families, and pay bills etc.

This country can do better in the tourism business by offering more of our natural resources and services where it is needed. Tourism is everybody’s business and we need to join hands and embrace our country for what it can offer us and the tourist. Remember Vincy love, vincy flavor, vincy food, one people, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Tourism Ministry strikes deal with supermarkets

Minister of Tourism Glen Beache (left) unveils the unique plan where the Ministry of Tourism has purchased and branded two sizes of canvas-type shopping bags to be distributed, free of cost, to the participating supermarkets.
Staff Reporter

The Ministry of Tourism is partnering with three supermarkets to promote tourism and environmental awareness.

At a press conference held at the Ministry of Tourism’s conference room last Monday, November 17, Minister of Tourism Glen Beache unveiled the unique plan.

The Ministry of Tourism has purchased and branded two sizes of canvas-type shopping bags to be distributed, free of cost, to the participating supermarkets: Greaves, Randy’s and the government owned Food City.

At press time, the price of the bags had not yet been determined, but Beache said he expected that the bags will be sold to shoppers at about $10 and $15, respectively, for the two sizes.

For six months, customers who purchase and use the bags when shopping will get a two per cent discount on what they purchase.

After the six-month period, each time a shopper uses the bag, he or she will be refunded the cost of the plastic bags that the supermarket would have had to use, had the shopper not had the bag.

In addition to the Ministry of Tourism’s logo, the bags will have different environmental awareness and tourism taglines printed on them.

The two bags that were displayed at the press conference had the respective taglines: Less plastic, save more and protect the environment today.

“We think this is something that will really work well,” Beache said.

He said that his Ministry is open to other supermarkets that will want to come on board, including those in the Grenadines. (KJ)

Henry Afflick “Flick” Haynes at forefront.

Kirby Jackson 24.OCT.08

Taking a flick back to 1950s 

It wasn’t planned. It was purely coincidental, but it was certainly one of those coincidences that you wish you had orchestrated.

How fitting is it that as we celebrate this country’s 29th year of independence from Britain that we look back at the life of Henry Afflick “Flick” Haynes?

He may be the only living person who served in this country’s Legislature in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Back then, Independence was just a dream, a goal; the basic rights of citizens were very slow in coming and took much lobbying to achieve.

Against this backdrop, Haynes, 88, the son of estate owner Edward Percival Haynes, served two terms with the People’s Political Party (PPP), under the legendary Ebenezer Theodore Joshua, who had formed the party in 1952.

Joshua was known as the defender of the rights of the poor and working class. So how did Haynes, a member of the planter class, the very class that Joshua often challenged, come to serve with Joshua, and furthermore be his second in command?

Henry Afflick “Flick” Haynes (2nd from left) meets the Queen Mother.

Haynes told SEARCHLIGHT that his mother Winifred deserves much of the credit for that.

Although he grew up on the Grand Sable Estate in Georgetown, where his father Edward was the manager, and later in Belair, after his father brought the 175-acre Dauphine Estate, Haynes said his mother kept him and his brothers and sister grounded, despite their privileged circumstances.

He recalled being taught to love people no matter their status in life, and his mother’s kindness to the less fortunate left an indelible impression on him.

The flogging he got for complaining when his mother asked him to give her last shilling to a poor woman who passed by is a lesson that Haynes said stuck with him for life.

Haynes attended the St Vincent Grammar School, where in 1936, the then 16-year-old was the opening bowler and batsman for the school team. He also represented the school in Football.

He didn’t say yes, but the bright smile he flashed told the story of a young man: tall, athletic, who commanded the attention of many girls at the time.

After school, Haynes joined his father on the estate, but the two couldn’t get along, so he went to work with the Arrowroot Association instead.

In 1942, after working for four years, Haynes, who was then the receiving and shipping manager, helped to organize a strike for better working conditions.

“We didn’t get what we were asking for. They just replaced us,” he said.

He rejoined his father at the estate, and later took over running it.

Haynes told SEARCHLIGHT that he never adopted the attitude of many other plantation owners who ill-treated their workers, because of his mother’s training.

“In those days, workers were not well paid and they were not well housed. I once said that some planters’ stables were better than the barracks where the workers slept,” Haynes said.

“In those days, the plantocracy ran the country, and although I was a planter and was heavily criticized, I loved the toiling masses,” Haynes said.

This love for the masses prompted him to first run as an independent candidate in the elections of 1954, where he lost by 100 votes.

His performance at the polls didn’t go unnoticed by Joshua, who convinced him to run on the PPP’s ticket in 1957, which he did and won the St George Constituency, giving the PPP five of the eight seats contested.

In the election of 1961, the St George constituency was spilt in two, and he won the West St George seat, while Joshua’s rival, Milton Cato, who would later become this country’s first Prime Minister, won in East St George.

He explained that back then, while the elected officials ran the internal affairs of the country, the real power was wielded by the British appointed Administrator, Attorney General and Finance Minister.

The Chief of Police was also British.

“We didn’t have much power. We fought for power. The power that the youngsters (in politics) nowadays enjoy is what Joshua and people like me fought for - to rid ourselves of colonialism,” he said.

Haynes recalled all the high profile dinners and events, including dinner with the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh aboard the vessel HMY Britanna in 1966, but it was the struggle for betterment for the people, working along with Joshua that was most fulfilling.

“Joshua wasn’t easy. He fought the British government. He made it hard on the administrator and the chief of police,” he said, shaking his head, chuckling, as though the memories were being awakened as he spoke to us.

“That is what politics is. It is about representing the people. Yes, yes, yes, politics should be seeing that the people are being taken care of, making sure that their needs are met.”

As SEARCHLIGHT spoke to Haynes, it was clear that there were many things, some very personal, that still affected him, that he couldn’t bring himself to talk about.

One such is the years that followed his daughter Jackie’s death in 1960. She died in his arms at the hospital, after being stricken with pneumonia.

All he would reveal is that his daughter’s death was a key reason why he ended his political career, messed up his life, lost the family estate, and struggled to find solid footing again.

So what did he do during this time?

“Oh, I just drank myself to death. I lost my estate, lost everything. Then I had to go to America and make a new life,” he said, without going, even when probed, into much detail.

Haynes had 10 children in total, five with his first wife, three with his current wife Eileen, and two others.

Now, as he enjoys the sunset days of his life with his wife at their Belair home, Haynes said that he is concerned about the increasing level of lawlessness and crime in the country.

He told SEARCHLIGHT that while the new police stations being built are good, he would rather see more emphasis being placed on specialized training for police officers so that they can be equipped with skills needed to deal with the modern criminal elements.