As for our tourism industry, I hope that 2016 will finally give us the long overdue opportunity to bring all public and private sector stakeholders together to discuss the business of tourism as a whole and come up with an effective tourism awareness and overall strategic tourism plan to create and further develop a truly authentic and sustainable tourism destination that allows for maximum community participation.
And for all of our sake, I truly hope that 2016 will bring to our Helen of the West a decrease in criminal activity, an overhaul of our judicial procedures, a fair and transparent regulatory system, heightened economic activity and increased employment opportunities.
I was saddened that the New Year started with our first murder of 2016 and that on top of this, the victim was related to one of our resort team members here at Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain. My heart goes out to the Herman family. I sincerely hope that we will be able to instill in our future generations a greater respect for life.
I wish that in 2016, the international press will predominantly feature many positive and wonderful stories about Saint Lucia. And I wish that some of our local press will spend more time in 2016 to check the accuracy of their news stories before publishing them and be more sensitive to the damage which irresponsible reporting can do.
It is hard to comment on the IMPACS report and CIP without being thrown into the realm of politics. Let it suffice to say that on my list of New Year’s best wishes for Saint Lucia, I hope that the country’s reputation and integrity can be safeguarded and that civil society will be able to partake in this process.
In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it is legal for all Americans, no matter their gender or sexual orientation, to marry the people they love. It is my sincere hope for 2016, that our LGBT community in Saint Lucia, and in the region as a whole, can live more openly without fear of discrimination and enjoy equal rights, personal autonomy, and freedom of expression and association.
So much more could be added to this list of best wishes for Saint Lucia but I fear that this would in fact become the longest New Year message ever.
It has been an honor and pleasure to serve as SLHTA’s President for almost 5 years. Going into 2016, I look forward to serving as the President of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA).
With my SLHTA Presidency soon coming to an end, I want to take this opportunity to thank our CEO Noorani Azeez and his team for their support throughout and for their dedication and enthusiasm to advocate for, promote and support our hospitality and tourism industry. To the directors of the SLHTA board with whom I have had the pleasure of serving, I thank them for their time and above all, their willingness to be the guiding lights and share their professional expertise for the benefit of the industry.
To my fellow hoteliers, I say a big thank you for their unwavering support of our Saint Lucia Tourism Enhancement Fund that so far has raised over 4 Million EC Dollars. It is my hope for 2016, that we will see other tourism industry sectors participate in this initiative. A big Thank You must go to the IGY Marina who represents our first Allied Member to commit to the TEF as of fall 2015.
To our SLHTA members, I say thank you to all those who have actively interacted with SLHTA consistently and regularly.
Together, we have been able to take SLHTA to new heights and I am proud of our achievements of which there are too many to list in this message.
But, there is so much more left to do and I have every confidence that SLHTA will continue to thrive going forward as long we can count on our membership to support us.
As we finalize SLHTA’s strategic plan for the next 3 years, you will see even more emphasis placed on Human Resource development and we hope to be able to implement an actual hospitality training facility in 2016. For those already employed in the industry we wish to provide opportunities for ongoing professional development. Our role in shaping policy for the tourism sector is another critical part of our strategic plan.
Linkages to other economic sectors and support for all things “Proudly made in Saint Lucia” are equally important. Above all, we wish to provide value and service to all of our members and operate on a fiscally prudent and financially sound platform at all times. And last but not least, 2016 will see the creation of the Eileen Paul Scholarship fund as a lasting tribute to this amazing lady who was our shining star for so many, many years.
And finally, for 2016, I wish for even more of our members to play an active part in SLHTA. It is you, our members that make or break the SLHTA. We can only represent you fairly and advocate on your behalf if you share your comments and concerns regularly. I am sure you agree that every voice must be heard and that every voice counts with so many challenges facing us as a country.
Let me conclude my message with our TEF’s motto: “Together for a Better Saint Lucia”
Let us make this happen for 2016.