CASTRIES, St. Lucia -- The St. Lucia Tourist Board plans to close its New York office, its only U.S. office, by the end of the year as part of an overall administrative restructuring and cost-cutting move.

St. Lucia's Toronto office is unaffected by the restructuring and will remain open.

The tourist board will appoint sales representatives in several regions to maintain its U.S. presence and to concentrate its sales efforts in key markets.

Maria Fowell, deputy director of the tourist board in St. Lucia, said that sales reps will serve the New York area, the Chicago and Midwest region and Atlanta and the Southeast markets, particularly Florida.

St. Lucia will maintain its toll-free information hot line at (888) 4-ST LUCIA.

The line, which is currently answered by the administrative staff in the New York office, may be rerouted to the head office here in the near future.

The restructuring also includes an evaluation of the destination's marketing and promotion plans, according to Fowell.

"Right now we are evaluating our image, branding and market positioning," she said.

Tourism officials plan to launch a promotional and marketing campaign before the end of the year that will focus on St. Lucia's natural assets, such as the Pitons, Diamond Falls and the rain forest.

St. Lucia's Web site at will undergo some technical changes to make the site more interactive for browsers.

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