Agriculture and Tourism Development: The Case of St. Kitts
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In 2005, the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis officially closed the sugar industry, ending mono-crop agriculture and opening a space for a new chosen economic driver, tourism. Newly available lands, an agricultural- based workforce and a push into tourism led to this research examining the state of agricultural tourism development in a transitioning region. Interviews with key public and private sector personnel, coupled with an evaluation of official policies and plans, were used in this qualitative case study to explore the state of agricultural tourism development (opportunities and barriers) and the role that stakeholders play in its creation. This research not only found common geographic and technical barriers but also endemic mental and behavioural characteristics of the local populace, which hinder agricultural development and, by extension, agricultural tourism. Negative attitudes towards agriculture and a lack of entrepreneurial spirit pervade, which hampers agricultural tourism development. Hence, this research shows that local attitudes towards agriculture play an important role in successfully diversifying agriculture via tourism. Many studies focus on the addition of tourism to an agricultural product without first ensuring the successful production of agricultural products themselves so that agricultural tourism can develop. Hence, this research asserts the need for the agricultural industry to upgrade its products to meet expected tourism standards before moving into agricultural tourism. Additionally, for the successful development of agricultural tourism, there needs to be a focused and sustained plan aimed at changing the mindset of the local populace towards agriculture and entrepreneurship, coupled with the government providing a facilitative environment conducive to developing agricultural tourism.