Personnel from the Saint Lucia Tourist Board and the Ministry of Tourism had good news for the media on Wednesday: arrivals from most of our markets were up, save from the UK. Figures for the yachting sector also showed a decline, but only slightly. The SLTB wanted it known that everything was being done to improve the situation quickly. On the other hand, tourism minister Dominic Fedee informed the gathering that “tourism is more than numbers of visitors. It is about driving economic growth in the country.”
Agnes Francis, the SLTB’s Executive Chairperson, offered a detailed account of changes in the organization, all designed, as she described it, “to put Saint Lucia in our customers’ faces.” Frances said the SLTB was reopening overseas offices and hiring professionals and specialists, especially in marketing and public relations. Some of the hired professionals had previously worked with the SLTB. Overseas-based Saint Lucian marketing companies had also been contracted. They are expected to sell the island as the ideal wedding setting, among other things.
Francis also announced the board’s involvement with the network Meltwater to keep track of its audience. The matter of reducing administrative costs was also addressed at this week’s press conference. Fedee confirmed that a new human resource manager will be hired to create definitive job descriptions and to hire candidates who are qualified, experienced and innovative, to contribute to achieving the goals of the SLTB.
In February, the SLTB announced plans that included a hub for local small businesses to benefit from the tourism industry, named Village Tourism Incorporated. According to Fedee this week, the project is still in its infancy stages but will be crucial to the development of local tourism. “Village Tourism Incorporated will seek to increase the participation of Saint Lucians in the tourism sector, mostly at the entrepreneurial level. It’s about going around in the various communities promoting the business opportunities within the sector. It will do three things: theme eight villages and towns islandwide so that they can become destinations in their own right by offering a spa or heritage theme; develop various sites and attractions; advance the alternative accommodation sector. Village Tourism Incorporated will also help people who have apartments in various areas by seeking to brand them, give them new direction, help with interior designing.”
Both the minister and the SLTB’s Executive Chairperson emphasized the changes in tourism globally. They said sights and beaches are becoming less reasons for travel, and that customers are more geared toward “experiential destinations”.