Tourism ministry welcomes changes to Marriage Act

By Demion McTair. Updated 7:30 p.m., Monday, August 17, 2020, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).

Kingstown, St. Vincent (ONE NEWS SVG) – Tourism Minister Cecil McKie, says stakeholders in the tourism industry have welcomed changes to the Marriage Act.

The Marriage Act was amended in Parliament on Friday, August 14, 2020, extending the categories of persons who can conduct marriages throughout the country, among other changes.

On the brief debate on the bill in Parliament, McKie says “there has been a call for some time now from the stakeholders in the tourism industry for changes” to the Marriage Act “to allow for ease in persons getting married within our destination, particularly in the grenadine islands”.

The tourism minister says weddings and honeymoons are one of four niche markets the tourism ministry looks at, from a broad sense.

He says the country has done fairly well where the other three niche markets are concerned; eco-tourism, sailing and diving, and festivals.

But, the niche area of weddings and honeymoons is the area in which we have been challenged as a destination, he says.

He says hotels and resorts, particularly in the Southern Grenadines, have suffered fall offs in numbers due to the inconvenience posed to guests of having to travel to the mainland, to go through legal requirements to become married.

With the changes to the Marriage Act, “we would be able to reposition ourselves as a more attractive and exciting destination when it comes to weddings,” Mr. McKie says.

THE DEPTH OF THE SITUATION

Minister McKie said “several of the hotels and resorts have contacted the ministry and they have lamented the fact that a number of persons when they come and they check into these resorts, they don’t want to have to go from one place to the other. And when it comes to weddings, they have indicated that it is really a major deterrent to persons and a turn off really, if they have to book into these resorts in the Southern Grenadines and have to come up to St. Vincent to go through the legal requirements to become married.

He says hotels and resorts numbers have fallen off as a result of guests having to travel to the mainland to go through legal requirements to become married.

“When it is explained to persons that they will have to come up to mainland St. Vincent, it means that they will be faced with the expense of having to book a flight to come up or a charter an aircraft. If they don’t do that… and the scheduling of the flights would not allow them to come up and go back down on the same day. So, it means they would have to overnight in St. Vincent. So, therefore, they are faced with the added expense of having to book a flight to St. Vincent, of having to book a hotel room in St. Vincent, while they maintain the room in the Grenadines because they already booked that, those are added expenses and really makes the destination not attractive,” the tourism minister says.

He says such persons will also be robbed of the vacation time they initially booked in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Mr. McKie says that hotels have also had to scale down on their marketing due to the limitation the issue brought. He says other tourism destinations in the region have been doing well in the niche market of weddings and honeymoons.

We would be able to reposition ourselves as a more attractive and exciting destination when it comes to weddings, Mr. McKie says. 

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