Reed Travel Features
NEW YORK -- St. Lucia is on the move -- big-time.
The St. Lucia Labor Party, out of power since 1982, swept to
victory in May in the biggest landslide election in the Caribbean
Dr. Kenny Anthony, party leader and new prime minister, wasted
no time in forming his cabinet and setting his priorities.
"We've been given an enormous mandate at a time when many
changes are taking place in the Caribbean," Anthony said at his
first press reception in New York just weeks after his
"Tourism is a top priority in this region, especially for those
Caribbean islands that seek to shift the emphasis from the
"It is time to get back to basics, to return to destination
marketing, to increase our visibility and to familiarize tour
operators and the press with the lesser-known islands."
Tourism constitutes only 11% of the gross national product on
"For St. Lucia's economy to grow, tourism must continue to
grow," he said. "The future of St. Lucia's tourism is linked to a
better understanding of the customer."
Hotels that offer a range of rates as well as air fares that are
equitable across the board are among the tourism challenges facing
the current government, Anthony said.
Philip Pierre, the new minister of tourism, along with Agnes
Francis, the director of tourism, are charged with the allocation
of funds for marketing St. Lucia, according to the prime
The island's physical attributes will come into play as the
marketing and promotion swing into high gear.
Getting lots of attention specifically will be the West Coast
road to Soufriere as well as the Pitons and the world's only
Capitalizing on the success that the island's annual jazz
festival generates, a Country and Western Festival will debut Dec.
8 to 12.
American Airlines is the participating carrier for both
Anthony said that "the addition of Air Jamaica's service and the
opening of its Montego Bay hub will benefit St. Lucia's growth.
"In addition, BWIA provides excellent scheduled service to St.
Lucia from New York and Miami," he said.
Recent hotel developments on St. Lucia include the announcement
by SuperClubs of construction of a 500-room Breezes resort later
"This addition will enhance our existing hotel plant, which
includes two Sandals properties, a Wyndham property and LeSport and
Rendezvous resorts," Anthony said.
Jalousie will reopen later this year as a member of the Hilton
International family, and several smaller properties have joined
the accommodations roster.
Anthony said that the government is in discussion with a major
U.S. hotel chain, and an announcement is expected by year's
"This government is committed to tourism," Anthony said. "We
need to work together to ensure that the customer gets good value
on St. Lucia."
Helping push the value angle for visitors to St. Lucia is the
new Island Adventure program available through November at a number
Anthony pointed to the Summer Adventure card, a package
component, as an example of a tourist enhancement that has benefits
to both the visitor and the island.
The card is issued to participants upon arrival on St. Lucia and
features reductions ranging from 10% to 25% on a number of
adventure programs -- from climbing the Pitons to waterfall and
rain forest hikes, plantation tours, scuba diving, riverboat tours,
fishing and visits to the Botanical Gardens, Soufriere Springs and
Shopping, dining, car rentals, kids' activities and nightclub
admissions also are deeply discounted.