Dennery, Mabouya Valley have much to crow about!

The European Union-funded Community Based Eco-Agro Tourism Programme (SFA 2007) has selected five existing tourism facilities/areas in Dennery/Mabouya Valley for upgrading in an effort to develop the community as part of the St Lucian Tourism product. To lead this development, the Dennery Mabouya Valley Development Foundation (DMVDF) was established and on Tuesday 31st January, the DMVDF launched its tourism product and brand for the area.
Newly elected chairman of the DMVDF, Benedict James says the project has helped members of both communities become active partners in the tourism industry. Historically, the Dennery community and its environs have not benefited from or contributed to the tourism industry. This James says will provide both Dennery and Mabouya Valley the opportunity to present their rich culture all packaged as a unique brand in the tourism industry of St Lucia. “We want to be distinct and we want to give a variety to the product,” he said, adding, “it is a brand that we will be perfecting, fine tuning over time, so that we will always be ahead of other communities because we know they will also be emulating what we have done here.”
James explained how difficult it has been for the two areas, Dennery and Mabouya Valley, to get things done in the past; stating the DMVDF is an umbrella organization housing 11 organizations—five of which are from Dennery and 6 from Mabouya Valley. “From the time this project started in 2008, you have persons from both communities attending a number of meetings, interacting, sharing ideas and I’m telling you the future looks bright for these two communities.”
Jeannine Blanchard, officer in the National Authorizing Office of the EU said the office has been involved in this project from its conception. She added, “In February 2008, under the special framework of assistance 2007, the financial agreement of improving the competitiveness of the rural economy was signed in an amount of over 4 Million Euros.” Blanchard stated this funding was earmarked for the two communities were suffering from poor returns and challenges faced in the banana industry.
“The community of Dennery/Mabouya has been well poised to take advantage of the economic opportunities that this project brings and it is the vision of the National Authorizing Office that the linkages formed between agricultural activities and the services provided by the community will be strong and long lasting,” said Blanchard. Parliamentary representative for Dennery South, Edmund Estephane said despite the burning down of the La Caye Police Station, the community now has a beautiful Centre. The cutting of the ribbon symbolized the official opening of the DMVDF headquarters at the Centre. Estephane encouraged the members to work towards making this project self-sustaining after the project funding reaches a red light.
The feature remarks were given by St Lucia’s Minister for Tourism, Lorne Theophilus who applauded the DMVDF for making this project a reality. “The collective expression of a brand was an essential precursor to a community tourism built on respect for visitors and locals alike,” he said. Theophilus further stated, “the project reflects the lifestyle and traditions of our St Lucian East Coast communities.” Theophilus noted through surveys, sectorial consultation sessions, focus group meetings and vision procreation workshops beginning in 2009, the Ministry of Tourism was able to analyze the data collected and identify strengths of the communities to mark out a marketing and communication strategy that would help in promoting the Dennery/Mabouya Valley tourism product.
“Branding product development and  refinement is a long and ongoing process, and we do not expect any magical impact overnight, however, if we persist in our efforts to nurture and promote the brand, completing the authenticity and high standards are most critical to the value of localism, creativity and togetherness, we will bear fruit.”
The five tourism facilities/areas selected for upgrade and support include, Madele Layby and La Pointe Visitor Shop Centre; Dennery Sea Food Fiesta; Sankofa Rainbow Roots Farm; Agro Sports Ground; Dennery Highway Tree Planting Programme; High Street Plant and Paint Project; Maroon Trail; and Fond d’Or Heritage Park.

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