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PRESS RELEASE – The Saint Lucia tourism sector recorded a 1% increase in stay-over arrivals for 2016.
According to figures released by the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, while total stay-over visitor arrivals for 2016 increased to an estimated 347, 872, the industry failed to show growth in the cruise and yachting sectors, both contracting by 13% and 1% respectively.
However, both sectors fared better in the final quarter of the year reporting double-digit growth in the last four months.
At a state of the industry press conference convened on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee and SLTB Executive Chairperson Agnes Francis, in a presentation to the local media, spoke optimistically about Saint Lucia’s projected performance for 2017.
“There are many strategic developments that will be undertaken in the coming year including a stronger airlift strategy that would improve airlift in the summer months where we typically struggle. Additionally, the government is currently looking at a new tourism incentives act that we hope will stimulate investment across the board. We are also taking a very serious look at the development of our airport in order to remain competitive with our other jurisdictions who are moving ahead with very modern state-of-the-art facilities,” noted Minister Fedee.
The US market continued to grow in 2016, with stay over arrivals increasing by 5%. The Caribbean market saw considerable growth of 7%, surpassing the UK market which shrunk by -5%. Executive Chairperson, Agnes Francis, pointed to an encouraging performance from the UK market in December with a 3.9% increase.
Canada continued to trail as the fourth largest market, capturing 11% of the market share. Encouraging increases in Canadian arrivals were observed in the last eight months of the year. The European market retained a minimal share of the market, capturing 5% of stay-over arrivals.
This year’s performance was shadowed by a number of world events that had a significant effect on travel including Britain’s exit from the European Union (Brexit), global security threats and the Zika Virus.\
Total airlift to the island increased by 3% in 2016 receiving an additional 16,000 seats. Significant increases were recorded from the US and Caribbean markets, whilst decreases were noted from Canada and the European markets. Airlift from the US increased 4%, as it has steadily over the last five years, thanks mainly to additional service on Delta from Atlanta, and added United Airlines flights from New Jersey and Chicago. Significant increases were also recorded in airlift from the Caribbean market whilst the Canadian and European markets struggled.
The Yachting sector fared better in the latter half of the year, than in the first. Arrivals by yacht from the three main ports dropped 1% from 2015 to 2016, although double digit increases were recorded in the last six months of the year especially at the IGY Rodney Bay Marina which recorded 8% overall growth.
With respect to visitor expenditure, total visitor spend was estimated at $709 million with the US and ‘The Rest of the World’ recording increases.
Indications are that cruise arrivals will grow by 16% in 2017 and additional airlift is expected to boost the US and Canadian stay-over markets. Additionally, new properties and renovations to existing properties will be adding more rooms throughout the year and planned expansions in the cruise and yachting sectors suggest a relative increase in visitor arrivals for 2017. The soon to be established Saint Lucia Tourism Authority will also complement these initiatives through reinvigorated print and digital marketing campaigns, development of the tourism product and increased support for the yachting and diving sector.