The Marigot Beach Vendors Association (MBVA) is seeking to have a meeting with all stakeholders to address the issue between its members and hotels in the area.
President of the association Susan Beckwith said the MBVA was surprised by the information appearing in a hotel magazine, warning tourists not to speak with vendors on the Marigot Beach.
Beckwith told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) in an interview on Tuesday, December 15 that they are looking to have a meeting to get the issue amicably resolved.
The MBVA has written the National Conservation Authority (NCA) and is awaiting a response. They also had a meeting with the Marigot Development Committee (MDC) on the same issue.
“We want to do all the right things and work with the local community. But we have these hotels against us and that is causing a lot of problems. All we want to do is make the tourists happy and make our money at the end of the day whether it be hotel or vendors,” Beckwith told SNO.
The hotel magazine said it is unable to limit or control how many vendors are on the beach and encourages its guests not to enter into any transaction with the vendors because they are all unlicensed.
But Beckwith has defended her members stating that at least half of the 20 members of the association have received licence to operate at the beach by the NCA. These licenses were issued in October this year.
Beckwith said these include vending licenses for: food and drink, water sport and souvenirs and handicraft vendors. She said the MBVA is working to have the rest of its members properly licensed.
“We work very closely with the local police, the MDC, the NCA and other government entities,” she explained.
Beckwith told SNO that she is looking at funding toilets, while another member is looking to erect vending huts to improve the customer service experience.
“We want to work with the hotels and make Marigot a good destination. We don’t want to feel pushed out by these people and looked down upon,” she asserted.
Meanwhile, a source at the beach claims that the hotels are working closely and are trying to “buy over” the beach, so that their guests could be properly accommodated there.
The source told SNO that a vendor was offered a deal by one of the hotels and despite it would have worked out to be very profitable; he turned it down and opted to manage his own small business.
The hotel through its magazine has advice its guests on the prices for bananas and coconuts.
The guests were also advised not to eat at any of the vending huts, stating that they have no sanitation, no tap water for cleaning food and no sanitation for washing hands.
It was confirmed with the NCA that 10 Marigot beach vendors are licence to operate.