The Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Tourism, Information and Broadcasting, Honourable Dominic Fedee, alongside representatives from the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, recently participated in a panel discussion focusing on the expectations of the tourism industry for the year 2017. On Tuesday 7 March they presented to the media a detailed outline of the new, more effective structure of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board to generate more interest from tourists.
Issues that caused declines in tourist markets over the past year were noted. This included Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union and the outbreak of the Zika virus. Moving forward, the tourism industry plans on investing to prepare for similar occurrences. There are also projections to improve the tourism sector to include locals, their business ideas and necessary contributions for the development of the industry.
Honourable Minister Fedee noted, “I think that this year is the year of revolution for local participation in the hospitality industry.” The minister made mention of accommodation for the agricultural, cultural and creative local industries. “I have been a firm believer for a long time that our agriculture-tourism linkage needs to be less talk and more action. I have been pleased with the private sector purchasing from local factors recently.”
With regard to the creative and talent contributions, much discussion has been made concerning the launching of an agency whose main focus will be on developing communities into holistic tourism products. This does not mean commercializing or destruction of local property and heritage. Minister Fedee emphasized, “A lot of our cultural and archaeological assets will be refined and promoted into valuable tourism assets so that Saint Lucia becomes a destination of more soul and we stay ahead of the competition.”
Other plans for improvement include tourist avenues and hotels closer to the international airport. Hotels and tourist accommodation historically began in the north of the island, the furthest point from the airport. The aim is to have more options for accommodation ranging from three and a half star to five star hotels. The redevelopment of our airports into more attractive, tourist-friendly sites is also being considered. The Ministry of Tourism and the Saint Lucia Tourist Board also plan on tapping into a few different tourist markets than the usual ones of Europe, Canada and the Caribbean for cruise and vacation. Conferencing markets and travel tour websites will be targeted in the upcoming year.
Developments and commencement of some of these new initiatives will soon be announced to the public.