The Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association makes reference to recent press articles concerning a dolphin park development in Saint Lucia and wishes to provide clarity on SLHTA’s position regarding such a facility.
As of this time, the SLHTA has not been able to ascertain whether or not a dolphin park will in fact be established in Saint Lucia. Because of this, the SLHTA has written to the Minister of Tourism seeking an update on the plans and timeline if in fact a dolphin park development is going to be initiated.
SLHTA consists of over 230 member businesses. At SLHTA’s annual general meeting in 2017, an informal survey undertaken at the request of the members present at the meeting indicated that the majority was against such a development. The SLHTA plans to conduct a formal poll of its members to further ascertain the views of the entire membership once comprehensive accurate information is available.
The SLHTA wishes to confirm that communication was received from the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) in regard to such a captive dolphin facility. ABTA also copied the Ministry of Tourism. ABTA, the United Kingdoms’s largest travel association, represents over 1,200 travel agents and tour operators including TUI Group, Thomas Cook, First Choice, Virgin Holidays and Kuoni.
The letter received by the SLHTA from ABTA stated that their members sell £32 billion of holidays and other travel arrangements each year.
The letter continued: “ABTA members have expressed the view that a new captive dolphin attraction would lead to substantial increased reputational risk to Saint Lucia and offer little in the way of differentiation. Research undertaken by our members in the UK also indicates a significant decline in the popularity of these attractions and a marked increase in the numbers of consumers who view keeping dolphins in captivity as unacceptable.
“A number of our members have actually removed all attractions involving captive cetaceans from sale and others are restricting the numbers they sell. We felt it important to highlight these trends, and suggest that if there are alternative options to enhance St Lucia’s tourism offering, with more longevity these should perhaps be considered. It is understood that Pigeon Island was the first national park in Saint Lucia and is one of the most bio-diverse sites on the island.
“Such a development seems to oppose the foundations of the park which was established with the vision to preserve local history, culture and natural resources for future generations. Should the decision be made to go ahead with the swim with dolphins attraction, please be aware that ABTA has developed the Global Welfare Guidance for Animals, which establishes a set of minimum requirements designed to assist in improving animal welfare. ABTA Members are increasingly requiring that tourism attractions featuring animals comply with the minimum standards set out in these Guidelines, to help improve animal welfare in tourism and enhance the customer experience, across the world. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss the Global Welfare Guidance.”
The SLHTA, recognizing its role as the principal tourism private sector agency in Saint Lucia, will at all times advocate for the development of a resilient, sustainable and diverse tourism industry in Saint Lucia that is in line with international tourism development and sustainability guidelines and preserve the integrity and reputation of our tourism product.