Last year more than three thousand persons from Martinique alone converged on Saint Lucia for the first ever Mercury Beach event at Pigeon Island. The event had been a staple in Martinique for more than ten years, however last year organizers decided to pursue a new venue outside of the French department with the assistance of Saint Lucia’s Maritime Consultant Cuthbert Didier. With very little institutional or private sector sponsorship, the event was an instant success. It was estimated that over the four day period when the French visitors were here more than two million dollars was injected into the local economy. This was achieved through hotel accommodations, taxis, shopping, docking fees, fuel and other expenses incurred by the visitors.
This year both the Ministry of Tourism and the Saint Lucia Tourist Board have endorsed and are supporting Mercury Beach. The event, which is being held today, Saturday August 15 on the Pigeon Island causeway, is also being sponsored by Saint Lucia Distillers, through Chairman’s Reserve, by Heineken and by Peter & Company with Mokai.
“I am very happy once again that we can have the Mercury event taking place in Saint Lucia,” stated tourism minister Lorne Theophilus at a press conference on Wednesday. “Last year was its inaugural year in the island … the participation was excellent and it created quite a buzz. So there is a huge kevel of expectation and anticipation on the part of not just the patrons of last year, but new patrons as well,” Theophilus said. He went on to say that from the ministry’s perspective Mercury Beach is significant, bringing much activity through visitor arrival during what is a typically a slow period in the tourism sector. He encouraged Saint Lucians to embrace the event, participate and welcome those persons who will be coming to the island with the usual warm and friendly Saint Lucian hospitality.
Cuthbert Didier expressed his excitement at being involved in the event again. “This event is a really good marriage of a special niche in the boating sector, speed boats,” he explained. “I have said before, Martinique is France in the Caribbean; they are our next door neighbour and we should continue to attract our French neighbours who have the disposible income to come here with events like Mercury Beach,” Didier said.
Also speaking on Wednesday was the director of tourism Louis Lewis. “From our perspective we are encouraged to collaborate with private sector agencies to really facilitate and encourage visitor arrival to Saint Lucia,” Lewis said. “What we have to do now is to ensure that we maximize this by engaging the organizers with a long term contract that will allow us to market the event far and wide over a longer period of time,” he went on to say. The tourism director believes that with Jazz followed by Carnival and now Mercury Beach, the SLTB can fully market the island from spring to summer as an ideal events destination.
Marieanne Louviaux is one of the organizers from Martinique who said that after last year’s success, patrons gave overwhelming support to the event returning to Saint Lucia. In explaining the choice of Saint Lucia she said, “it’s a beautiful island and it is a whole experience. People come for three or four days, they go to the street party in Gros Islet, they shop, they eat at restaurants, so this is bigger than just a boat thing or a big beach party.” She went on to thank the government of Saint Lucia for its support this year as well as the sponsors and the SLTB.
Mercury Beach is being held as a land/sea event and will feature “live” performances by local and regional acts as well as DJs and other side attractions. The event runs from 9am to 9pm.