NEW YORK -- St. Lucia welcomed more than 276,000 visitors last
year, a record for the island, according to Phillip Pierre,
minister of tourism.
The figures represent a 9.3% overall increase, with U.S.
visitors up 4.3% over the prior year.
Pierre, who hosted a recent Media Marketplace in New York in
recognition of St. Lucia's 25th anniversary of independence, said
tourism "now accounts for more than 12% of our gross domestic
He attributed the rebound in visitor traffic last year, in part,
to the strength of St. Lucia's ongoing private-public sector
partnerships, a sentiment echoed by Michael Going, Air Jamaica's
senior vice president of marketing and sales.
"Air Jamaica places high importance on our relationships with
our Caribbean cousins," Going said, adding that partnering on
projects to raise destination awareness remains "critical" in
"For the past few years, it has not been business as usual in
the travel and tourism industry," Going said. "We must continue to
build stronger alliances to ensure not only that our scheduled
services remain strong but also that tourism receipts in all island
Pierre cited two destination developments in St. Lucia as
examples of "partnerships that work." These include the alliance
that unites the St. Lucia Tourist Board with Air Jamaica and Black
Entertainment Television (BET) to produce the 13th annual St. Lucia
Jazz Festival, set for May 7 to 16.
Air Jamaica also is a producer of the Caribbean Media Exchange
on Sustainable Tourism (CMEx) series; the sixth CMEx will be held
in Castries from June 24 to 28.
Other developments in St. Lucia include:
• The St. Lucia Tourist Board teamed with the Travel Institute
to create a travel agent specialist program that will provide
information regarding the island's history, heritage, culture,
attractions, water sports and activities.
Over the next three years, St. Lucia will offer incentives to
those agents certified with the program, according to Hilary
Modeste, director of tourism.
Sales and booking tips, a study guide, a language primer, road
maps and information regarding currency, banking and shopping hours
will be included. The cost of the course is $79. Details will be
• The St. Lucia Tourist Board, the Ministry of Tourism and the
St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association have initiated a marketing
strategy aimed at the island's small and independent hotels.
Modeste said that the INNtimate St. Lucia program is designed
"to increase consumer awareness of the abundance of affordable
lodging options on the island." Details can be viewed at www.inntimatestlucia.org.
To contact reporter Gay Nagle Myers, send e-mail to [email protected].