Recognizing its efforts in developing the country’s tourism sector for the past 49 years, Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony has mandated the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA) and other related agencies to engage in some ‘soul searching’ to identify what is needed to transform St Lucia into a unique and more appealing destination.
Speaking at the association’s 49th Annual General Meeting on July 12, 2013, the prime minister impressed upon the SLHTA to examine and see about the future of the hotel and tourism sector.
He also highlighted the need for greater collaboration amongst government, state agencies, other stakeholders, and additionally stressed on the importance of injecting more resources into the sector.
“How can we realize a revival? How can we grow beyond what has become a sort of ceiling in stay-over arrivals of about 300s of thousands? How can we expand and improve the quality of our room stock? What kind of visitor should we attract to our shores?” he asked.
Labeling it as the country’s highest export earner and employer, Dr Anthony said tourism is “here to stay,” which he said is all the more reason why the sector should be improved.
The prime minister however drew attention to the many challenges facing the industry, which include the dreaded world economic crisis.
“There has to be some detailed stocktaking and bold thinking in these times. I know that the pressure of maneuvering through a world economic recession has unleashed its own turbulent dynamics, both on your individual members as well as upon the broader collective,” he said.
“Here in Saint Lucia we have had our fair share of woes. Almond Morgan Bay escaped receivers and is now in the hands of a new owner. The sale of Discovery at Marigot is nearing completion. Two properties, the Landings and Smugglers, are in the hands of receivers. One can only hope that they emerge out of receivership with new owners and management as quickly as possible,” Dr Anthony added.
He added, “these failures are unfortunate and will clearly have implications for the financing of future investment.”
Meanwhile, Dr Anthony further raised questions as to the avenues to be employed to attain the targeted 400,000 visitor mark and increase the island’s world brand recognition.
He however noted that “the important point is that we have survived. I believe that the worst is behind us. We must now use the experiences of the past three years to entrench and re-position our industry,” he said while congratulating the SLHTA on its anniversary.
“We still have got a long way to go,” he said while highlighting some of the successes of the local industry which includes being a named the top wedding and hotel destination in the region and world.