(SNO) — Chief Executive Officer of the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association, Noorani Azeez, is lamenting the high cost of doing business on the island, saying it is a very challenging task.
He was speaking against the background of the abrupt closure of Blu Hotel recently.
“We continue to lament the high cost of doing business in Saint Lucia, the absence of an ease of business protocol, the challenges of getting matters addressed as it relates to private sector concerns,” he told HOT7 TV. “All converge to make business a very challenging task.”
He said the closure of the hotel could have a ripple effect across the entire tourism sector.
“The accommodation sector is a highly competitive aspect of the tourism offerings in Saint Lucia, these investors perhaps put forward the highest volume of investment as it relates to brick and mortar and setting up these establishments,” he stated.
He said the issue must be addressed, although the Blu Hotel was not part of the tourism association.
“Being the hotel association, we are concerned about that type of negative impact on members,” Azeez stated. “Blu is not a member of the SLHTA but nevertheless we feel the repercussion and the ripple of job losses.”
He said that as a destination, Saint Lucia must respond to negative criticisms of guests who were displaced at the speed the property was closed.
“We got to approach it as a collective,” he noted.
He added that ongoing dialogue between tourism interests on the island and the Ministry of Tourism is beginning to bear fruit on the problem the hotel’s closure has created in terms of guest complaint and job loss.
“We have provisions for those who have been misplaced immediately as a result of the closure,” Azeez said. “So that conversation is ongoing. Unfortunately that is something that we don’t have a textbook response for and we got to approach it on a case by case basis. “