Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Hon. Dr Kenny Anthony attended the annual Saint Lucia Showcase last night, promising the trade it will improve its hotels, security and airport facilities.
He revealed that plans are underway for new security officers that would exclusively look after the tourism sector, after hearing concerns from the UK trade around crime and safety on the island.
Speaking at the event Anthony said: “I hope to work very closely with our partners in this initiative. I hope I can persuade that this is one of the initiatives that we must invest in side by side as we know how important it is to keep our passengers safe and secure.”
The government has also appointed a private operator to run the Hewanorra International Airport on the south of the island so an upgrade on the terminal can start up, with other plans including updating its arrivals and departure services. Initially a quicker arrivals and departures service will be offered to private jet and high-end customers in the coming months.
Hotels on the island have been given the chance to expand or upgrade their facilities, with more than US$100 million expected to be spent on hotel development. Windjammer and LeSport are among the larger hotels going through renovations, while four hotels are now out of receivership and under new owners including Morgan Bay, The Landings and Smugglers Cove.
“We are beginning to see very early signs that investors are returning to Saint Lucia with confidence,” Anthony said. “Confidence is the key word; that’s what we want to build.”
Anthony thanked the UK trade for its help with levelling the Air Passenger Duty band with flights going to the US, and also for the continued support for sending tourists to the island.
Year-to-date the island has seen an 8% increase in UK tourists with 45, 103 Brits visiting from January to July this year, while there has also been a 7.7% rise in room nights from UK visitors.
“Our growth can only be explained by your belief in our product and your belief in Saint Lucia. We need that confidence as we go into the future, without that commitment we would not be where we are today. It is true that we want more growth, we need more growth, to repair the damage in our struggling economy. I thank you for your commitment.”
Earlier in the day Saint Lucia Tourist Board’s deputy director of tourism Tracey Warner-Arnold also revealed the island is working on a Tourism Transportation Policy to licence the transport sector through certification. New national standards in tourism and hotels are also in the works “to maintain standards and ensure the industry is delivering”, with the tourist board only recommending those that go through the process successfully.