Nevis Defends Native Son Alexander Hamilton Amid $10 Bill Changes
PHOTO: The Hamilton House in Charlestown, Nevis. (courtesy Nevis Tourism Authority)
Alexander Hamilton is the quintessential American hero. Founder of the U.S. Mint and the nation’s financial system, he was the first U.S. Treasury secretary and the chief staff aide to General George Washington.
Yet despite his American ties Hamilton was born in Nevis, the smaller neighbor of St. Kitts, with which it forms a dual-island nation. The quintessential American spent his childhood and teen-age years in the capital of Charlestown. Thus June’s news that beginning in 2020 the U.S. Treasury Department will issue $10 bills featuring an as yet-to-be named American woman in addition to Hamilton “created quite a stir,” tourism officials said recently.
Hamilton’s ties to the island are an important aspect of St. Kitts and Nevis’ marketing message for American travelers, which represent the majority of the country’s international travelers. Thus any effort to de-emphasize Hamilton’s roots in Nevis impacts travel to the country, said Greg Phillip, CEO of the Nevis Tourism Authority. “Whatever the decision Alexander Hamilton will always have a home in Nevis,” said Phillip.
He added that because the bill is being redesigned to celebrate the 100th anniversary of U.S. women’s right to vote, Hamilton, raised for much of his youth in a one-parent household headed by his mother, clearly would appreciate the gesture.
“The world views Alexander Hamilton as the great American founding father, but here on Nevis we see him as family and as a result, we know him and the principles that governed his life more fully than most probably do,” Phillip said.
“If there was ever a Founding Father that would gladly forfeit his place on American currency, it would be Hamilton,” he continued. “He was a true lover and supporter of women [which] has everything to do with his upbringing by his mother right here on Nevis.”
St. Kitts and Nevis is poised to increase its tourism profile in the coming years. In March its citizens elected a new government whose main tourism goal is “to further cement our reputation as being among the finest destinations in the region,” said Mark Brantley, St. Kitts’ foreign affairs and aviation minister.
The twin-island nation’s land-based traveler arrivals are positive, with 104,730 overnight visitors in 2014, a 3.7 percent increase over 2013. The country’s cruise arrivals are especially buoyant, totaling 434,106 between January and August of 2014, a 16.9 percent increase over 2013.
The dual-island nation’s air service will receive a boost in December, when United Airlines launches weekly non-stop flights from Newark Liberty International Airport to Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport in St. Kitts. The flights will complement existing non-stop service into St. Kitts from North America during the peak winter travel season.
The new flights will also help to serve the country’s growing hotel base. “The launch of this new service from United is very significant for St. Kitts, particularly as many of our new hotel developments including Belle Mont Farm at Kittitian Hill, Park Hyatt St. Kitts at Christophe Harbour [and] Koi Resort & Residences and Embassy Suites by Hilton St. Kitts are open or opening within the next few years,” said Lindsay F.P. Grant, St. Kitts’ tourism minister.
“To support the growth in available room stock, a simultaneous growth of our airlift is required. The Northeastern U.S. has historically been our largest source market for visitors, and these new flights also allow for more connections from key gateways in and near this region.”
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