Saint Lucia is adjusting its approach to marketing the destination as pandemic disruptions in source markets continue into the new year.
Britain, for example, has entered another countrywide lockdown to combat the fast-spreading new variant of the coronavirus.
Tourism Minister Hon. Dominic Fedee said measures have been instituted in hopes of maintaining the sector.
“We have been using innovative marketing techniques to see how best we can encourage individuals to come to our shores in the numbers that would make it sustainable for our hotels to remain open and for the airlines to keep flying. We do anticipate that a number of the airlines are going to scale back in terms of capacity and that will no doubt affect arrivals.”
The minister acknowledged that outbreaks in the United States also pose a challenge to the sector.
“There is a prevailing increase in the number of COVID-19 cases and the number of hospitalizations, as well as the stress on the healthcare sector within the United States. This poses significant challenges on the ability of people to travel,” he explained. “A new development that we’re seeing now is that a number of states are already requiring testing on the way back and that did not happen in the earlier stages of our reopening. This is a new challenge which is no doubt going to be an impediment for people who want to travel.”
The expected dip in arrivals due to these pandemic disruptions will break the momentum set in December 2020 which peaked at 10,000. While this represents 25 percent of figures recorded for that period in the previous year, under pandemic conditions, it was viewed as high performance.
Minister Fedee said that many hotels had a very good last week of the year. Boxing Day arrivals registered over 1000.
“This figure is close to the number of arrivals that we would have had pre-COVID-19. So there were some flashes of brilliance but the environment doesn’t lend itself to being conducive for people to be able to travel in the volumes that they did pre-COVID-19. We expect to see tremendous fall-out in comparison to how we have done in 2019 when we broke the record of 423,000 visitors.”
Hon. Dominic Fedee addressed the media during a Saint Lucia Tourism Authority briefing held on Jan. 6.