PRESS RELEASE – The Caribbean Tourism Organization’s State of The Industry Conference (SOTIC 2014) held in St. Thomas US Virgin Islands from September 17-19, came to a close on Friday September 19, with the much anticipated Youth Congress.
The theme for this year’s SOTIC was Realizing the Vision: Positioning Caribbean Tourism for Major Change and in true Caribbean style, the eleven Junior Ministers and Commissioners of Tourism delivered.
The youth delegates spoke on the topics of “Experiential Tourism” and “Accessible Tourism”, sharing their respective islands initiatives and product development concepts for each, in addition to the ways in which the regional can capitalize on and develop niche markets around the individual themes.
For the second consecutive year, Nevis and Saint Lucia have secured first place and second place respectively. The Junior Ministers both presented CTO delegates and judges with exciting thought provoking ideas on Experiential Tourism. Junior Minister for Saint Lucia, fifteen year old Rohan Alfred of the Saint Mary’s College identified the Tree-to-Bar initiative at Hotel Chocolat as one of the many experiences which await visitors to Saint Lucia. Below is an excerpt from his presentation:
“Imagine for a moment madam chair a farm based tour where luscious coco pods are harvested to produce delicious, mouthwatering decadent chocolate; a complete Tree to Bar Experience. The experience continues when honeymooners immerse themselves in a sea of chocolate at the luxurious Cocoa Juvenate Spa. Such is the experience which awaits visitors at Hotel Chocolat in the bosom of our world heritage site; the majestic Pitons. Is it any wonder that St. Lucia holds the title of Leading Honeymoon Destination”?
The Ministry of Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries congratulates Mr. Alfred on a job well done and for representing Saint Lucia to the fullest. The Ministry also wishes to extend sincere thanks to Digicel Saint Lucia for facilitating Mr. Alfred’s travel to Saint Thomas for the Youth Congress.
BELOW IS THE SPEECH BY ST. LUCIA’S ROHAN ALFRED
Bonne Après Midi Tout Moun. Good Afternoon Everyone.
Experiential tourism is defined as the “Experiences that connect the visitor with the essence of a place and its people”. Travelers desire to venture beyond the beaten tourist paths and delve deeper into authentic, local culture, connecting with people in ways that enrich their lives and create lasting memories.
Home Stay, Farm-based, Community-Based among others are all encompassed under the broad heading of Experiential Tourism.
Seated in your comfortable chairs and restrictive suit and tie you may be asking yourselves “Why should developmental priority be shifted away from sun sea and sand; A mantra which has sold our destinations for decades?”
It is because it HAS sold my destination for decades, likewise your own fellow junior ministers. The question therefore is “What sets my Helen of the West apart from your respective islands?”
The Development of Experiential tourism is paramount because a diversified tourism product is needed to cater to an equally diverse tourist market.
Imagine for a moment madam chair a farm based tour where luscious coco pods are harvested to produce delicious, mouthwatering decadent chocolate; a complete Tree to Bar Experience. The experience continues when honeymooners immerse themselves in a sea of chocolate at the luxurious Cocoa Juvenate Spa. Such is the experience which awaits visitors at Hotel Chocolat in the bosom of our world heritage site; the majestic Pitons. Is it any wonder that St. Lucia holds the title of Leading Honeymoon Destination?
A classic example of a diverse tourism product is the rising popularity of Community Based tourism captioned in the Global theme for World Tourism day. Daniel Levine in the 2013 State of the Industry Conference stated “Authenticity is Transparent” and it is off this premise that St. Lucia is well placed to offer a uniquely rich cultural experience.
Two of our most noted community based initiatives are Gros Islet Street party and Anse La Raye fish fry. There, visitors delight in culinary offerings and revel in the unique sounds of St. Lucia’s musical talents.
Madam Chair, Junior Commissioners and Ministers of Tourism it was John Keats who so aptly said “Nothing ever becomes real, till it is experienced.” As a tourism dependent region we must then ensure that we deviate from the traditional modes of enticing the visitor and grasp their individual nuances so completely that the next thought is “What Next?” I thank you.