St. Lucia's new minister of tourism and civil aviation is native St. Lucian Allen Chastanet, managing director of two Coco Resorts properties in St. Lucia: Coco Kreole and Coco Palm.

Chastanet was sworn in on Dec. 19, assuming the post under John Compton, recently elected prime minister of St. Lucia.

As tourism minister, Chastanet automatically becomes the chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization for the next two years, a post made vacant when the former tourism minister, Phillip Pierre, lost that position when Kenny Anthony was defeated by Compton in St. Lucia's recent elections.

Chastanet was St. Lucia's director of tourism from 1991 to 1994, serving under Compton who previously led St. Lucia for 29 years, from 1964 to 1979 and again from 1982 to 1996.

In naming Chastanet to the minister's post, Compton said, "In our drive to diversify and modernize our economy we've invested heavily in tourism, both by the private and the public sectors. This area will, in the foreseeable future, be the lead sector in our economy."

Of Chastanet, Compton said that "he has demonstrated the vision to see the road ahead and to prepare us for the challenges in this fiercely competitive world."

The prime minister pointed out that while "St. Lucia may be beautiful, we must realize that we are not the only pebble on the beach. To meet the competition, we must mobilize the best brains and resources. [Mr.] Chastanet will be backed by a team [that has] excellent track records in this field."

Compton also diffused any talk of conflict of interest with Chastanet's hotel interests. "His own interest in this field is no conflict but an incentive from which the entire industry will benefit. He also has the portfolio of civil aviation so he can bring in the planes to fill the hotels."

In fact, Chastanet has resigned as managing director of Coco Resorts and his vacated role will be shared by his sister Feolla Chastanet; general manager Jean St. Rose; CFO Richard DuBoulay; and senior operations manager Claudine Gilbert.

Chastanet also resigned his position as first vice president of the Caribbean Hotel Association. That post has not been filled as of yet.

In addition to previously serving as director of tourism in St. Lucia, Chastanet's former tourism experience includes eight years at Air Jamaica, leaving as vice president of marketing and sales in 2003 to return to St. Lucia and develop Coco Resorts. He also served as a past director of sales and marketing for Island Outpost.

To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].

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