PRESS RELEASE – From a “Dragon’s Den” style pitch, the Saint Lucia Tourist Board and the Travel Foundation have awarded one innovative Saint Lucian tour operator a trip to the UK and an opportunity to be featured at the upcoming Saint Lucia Showcase at Luton Hoo Hotel on 11th and 12th September 2014.
Following the introduction of new training launched on island by the Saint Lucia Tourist Board and the Travel Foundation in February, three finalist excursion providers entered the Dragon’s Den style competition to demonstrate how they had put their training into practice to deliver an original excursion in Saint Lucia.
The winning submission was the ‘Leve Project’ by ‘Dennery Mabouya Valley Development Foundation’, a community based project which aims to generate an alternative source of income to support the area’s declining banana trade. It offers tours for visitors inspired by Saint Lucia’s culture and natural environment. Tours combine an active hike with traditional cuisine and cultural entertainment.
The judging panel consisted of experts from the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, Virgin Holidays, the UK’s Travel Trade Gazette and the Travel Foundation who based the verdict on which company best encapsulated the recommendations in the new training to target UK tour operators.
Winning the judging panel’s votes by showing how they offer huge potential in the community tourism model, Dennery Mabouya Valley Development Foundation will head to London next month (with sponsorship from Virgin Holidays), and take part in the Saint Lucia Showcase . The company will be given the opportunity to present its business offer directly to over 60 UK tour operators, 40 hotels and destination management companies.
Julie Middleton, the Travel Foundation’s Industry Programmes Manager said, “The scheme gave us the opportunity to see some really innovative submissions and we were really impressed with the winner. Dennery Mabouya Valley Development Foundation showcased how a small community based excursion provider can make significant progress using the Travel Foundation’s freely-available training manual – ‘Are you ready for business?’.”
Atlyn Forde, Acting Director of Marketing UK and Europe at the Saint Lucia Tourist Board said, “We are pleased with everyone who participated in this fantastic scheme and feel that Dennery Mabouya Valley Development Foundation was a deserving winner. This was a fantastic opportunity to encourage businesses with determination to make the most of marketing their excursions.”
The Travel Foundation – a charity backed by the industry – introduced their new training manual on island, on how to sell excursions to UK tour operators. Over five months, the 21 attendees were encouraged and incentivised by the Travel Foundation to follow the training manual to improve their businesses and understand health and safety issues. In July, three finalists were shortlisted to present to a panel of judges. The other two finalists included Lushan Country Life and Sea Spray Crusies’ Family Pirate Adventure.
Saint Lucia was the first destination to use the Travel Foundation manual and based on the success of the pilot scheme, the Travel Foundation intends to roll it out globally with Saint Lucia as the case study. That case study will also use examples from all of the short listed local companies detailing how Saint Lucia excursion providers have worked with the proposed manual to improve their businesses.