The next few years will see a shift in St. Lucia's tourism landscape.
An increase in demand for the destination has led to the need to expand its international airport. According to the St. Lucia Tourism Authority, the redevelopment of the Hweanorra International Airport is expected to begin within the coming weeks.
It will include the construction of a new terminal building with restaurants, shops and executive lounges. The old terminal will be converted to accommodate fixed-based operators. The airport is expected to be completed and fully operational by the end of 2020.
According to St. Lucia's tourism minister Dominic Fedee, the project is part of the government's plan to expand the island's room stock by 50% over the next eight years. Currently St. Lucia has just over 5,000 rooms and welcomes nearly 400,000 overnight visitors every year.
This year the cruise terminal received a multimillion-dollar upgrade to accommodate megavessels, which exposes more visitors to Port Castries as the gateway to the rest of the island. One of the highlights for cruise passengers to Saint Lucia has always been the Castries Market, which was built in 1891 and still serves today as a snapshot of daily Saint Lucian life.
Now, an improved Castries Market is underway, with the capacity to accommodate more than 300 regular vendors and an additional 100 local sellers on market days. The new market is intended to take a more modern approach, with a new food court, high-end restaurants, a craft market and a viewing tower overlooking the city. There will also be an entertainment zone and duty-free shopping.
The Castries Market Redevelopment Project is just a piece of an overall Village Tourism Project. As the Castries Market develops, villages around the area will start to grow as tourism destinations. Visitors will have the opportunity to experience villages like Gras Islet, Dennery, and Anse la Raye through the initiative, which will highlight their historic, cultural, and gastronomic options. This project is expected to be underway in January.
On the resort front, last year Sandals unveiled details about its next hotel project in Saint Lucia, Sandals LaSource St. Lucia, which is to be a 330-suite resort built next to the Sandals Grande St. Lucian. Ground broke on the project earlier this year, but an opening date is still to be determined.
Fairmont Hotels & Resorts, meanwhile, is planning to open its hotel and residential development on St. Lucia next year. Fairmont Saint Lucia at Sunset Bay will sit on 25 acres and 1,870 feet of beachfront and have 120 rooms, 40 residential villas, four restaurants and bars, a Fairmont spa and private marina. The family-friendly resort will also have a children's pool and 10,000 square feet of event space.
These expansion developments come on the heels of St. Lucia's plan to position itself as an experiential destination, as is the trend with many destinations these days. Rather than being known as a honeymoon spot, highlighted for its natural beauty and seclusion, The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority's branding campaign aims to position the island as a place for romance, but also adventure, diving, wellness, family travel and culinary exploration.