Saint Lucia Honours 'The Best Of The Best'

First annual Piton Awards recognizes destination's top-selling travel agents in Canada
03-26-2014  By: Terrilyn Kunopaski
Charlie Agostino, Anse Chastanet; Judy Duncan, The BodyHoliday and Rendezvous; Saint Lucia Director of Tourism, Mr. Louis Lewis; Elaine Carnegie, Anse Chastanet; Alison Theodore, Saint Lucia Manager Canada and Tracey Warner Arnold, Saint Lucia Deputy Director Tourism
Charlie Agostino, Anse Chastanet; Judy Duncan, The BodyHoliday and Rendezvous; Saint Lucia Director of Tourism, Louis Lewis; Elaine Carnegie, Anse Chastanet; Alison Theodore, Saint Lucia Manager Canada; & Tracey Warner Arnold, Saint Lucia Deputy Director Tourism

At an exclusive luncheon hosted by the Saint Lucia Tourist Board yesterday, the first-annual Piton Awards were handed out.

Celebrating Canada's 2013 top-selling travel agents for the destination, the tourism office's Director of Tourism Louis Lewis and Deputy Director Tracey Warner-Arnold were on-hand for the event.

"We really represent 170,000 people who depend on this industry, and your cooperation is something that's very much valued," Lewis said, explaining the importance of the tourism industry to the island's economy.

The eight travel agents honoured were Chris Akester, Collacutt Travel; Danny Almon, AlmonTravel; Gillian Gervais, Marlin Travel; Gary Hill – Uniglobe Adventure House Travel; Jairus Maus, Tripcentral; Nancy Miklian, Travel Sensations; Carmelina Pirrocco-Crawford, Halton Trafalgar Travel; and Renee Cannon, Marlin Travel.

In recognition of their achievement, each received an original plaque inspired by a local Saint Lucian artist, plus monetary gifts amounting to $1,000 - $500 for themselves and $500 marketing dollars for their agency. Anse Chastanet and Sunswept Resorts (The BodyHoliday and Rendezvous) sponsored a bonus prize of a four-night stay for two for each Piton award recipient.

"We're honouring the best of the best," said Alison Theodore, regional marketing manager for the tourist board in Canada.

"The industry has changed, but one of the things that really always hits me is that there's one thing that has remained the same, and that's the importance of the travel agent, particularly in Canada," she told guests, who also included tour operator partners. "Travel agents in Canada are absolutely critical, and even more so for Saint Lucia. Think of it – when you're booking Saint Lucia, it's like you're making dreams. It's aspirational…They want that expert. They want to know they have someone who is able to look at every single detail and make it perfect."

Theodore said that was the reason the tourism office created the Preferred Agent Saint Lucia Specialist program, or PASS, as an educational and training program.

Only travel agents registered with PASS qualify for the Piton Awards, though other stipulations must be met such as IATA/CLIA/ARC/CLAA certification, they must attend a Saint Lucia presentation at least once per year, and regularly update bookings online.

The PASS program includes personalized marketing tools, complimentary and discounted FAMs, listing on SLTB website, access to thousands of travellers from the SLTB via live chats on stlucianow.ca, complimentary site inspections, featured spots within the SLTB monthly e-newsletter and a chance to win an all expense, all inclusive trip for two.

Piton Award winners with Saint Lucia representatives & supplier partners
Piton Award winners with Saint Lucia representatives & supplier partners

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