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Monday,  July 22, 2024   4:19 PM
From CTM: Speaking with Saint Lucia's Tourism Minister

The island of Saint Lucia has been experiencing record growth in tourism arrivals over the past few years, and is seeing increased interest from the Canadian market, with added flight capacity to prove it.

At last week’s Caribbean Travel Marketplace, PAX had the chance to speak one-on-one with the Hon. Lorne Theophilus, Minister of Tourism, who discussed the destination’s appeal and ever-expanding tourism sector.

What does a growth in tourism arrivals mean for Saint Lucia?

It means that the tourism marketing of the destination and the strategic approach is being beneficial to us. We’ve seen growth in our key source markets, including Canada. This demonstrates a number of things, one being the continuation of the relationship between Saint Lucia and the Canadian public, which has existed for quite some time; we’ve had a strong alliance between Canada and Saint Lucia since the 1970s, and this is something we’ve built on. It has allowed Canada to continue to be there for us as a good source.

What is the status of accommodation growth?

We expect our room stock in Saint Lucia to increase by about 1,200 rooms by 2016 with the various builds that are out there. You can’t expand your airlift without having the necessary product, so it’s critical that we do that. It’s coming at a good time and what it shows is that it’s critical demand for the destination – investors don’t expand at that rate unless the economic precursors are there.

What is it about St. Lucia that people travel to see?

The natural beauty of St. Lucia is world-renowned. Because of our unique cultural diversity, it creates an experience. This is what it’s about! Yes, we are a world-renowned destination in terms of weddings, honeymoons, romance…Saint Lucia is a romantic destination. But new initiatives expose people to the wider aspect of our product; it shows the diversity of our product. We cater to those who are into health and wellness; nature lovers; those who want adventure or soft adventure; those who want to sit by the beach – you can find it all within Saint Lucia. Any discerning visitor can find what they want on our island.

How would you describe the state of the tourism industry in the Caribbean overall?

The efforts of organizations like the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) help to bring attention to the Caribbean as a region. Within the Caribbean, there are several different gems and those gems offer different experiences. Saint Lucia, we believe, is one of the most precious gems in that archipelago, and I say so subjectively. There are many features that are probably common among most Caribbean islands, but there are others that are unique. For example, the Pitons cannot be found in any other part of the Caribbean. The drive-in volcanoes cannot be found in any other part of the Caribbean. Some of the soft adventure that we present cannot be found in any other part of the Caribbean. These are some of the things we use to distinguish ourselves within the region.

What are must-see and dos on the island?

If you come to the island, you must see the Pitons. You must go to our drive-in volcano in Soufrière. I would advise that you take the rainforest sky ride. I would also advise that you enjoy the Gros Islet Friday night or go to the fish fry in Anse La Raye. You can come to our world-renowned Jazz festival. You can also participate in Carnival during the month of July. Come back in October and experience a month of Creole activities…  We have many different things at any time of the year.

For context, what is the place of tourism in Saint Lucia’s economy?

Tourism is our main economic driver and the lifeblood of our country; it is the reason why our country invests significantly in the marketing of our destination. It is something that one, we treasure and two, we protect.

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