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Tourism Numbers Up: Further Gains Anticipated

Director of Tourism, Louis Lewis. [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]
Director of Tourism, Louis Lewis. [PHOTO: Stan Bishop]

TOURISM officials were all smiles on Tuesday when they announced the tourism figures for the first five months of this year.

Director of Tourism, Louis Lewis told the media that between January and May, stay-over arrivals increased by 5.5% over the same period last year. Total stay-overs during that period stood at 159,077.

On a year-to-date comparison, the U.S. – the island’s strongest market segment – went up by 8.9% while the Canadian market grew by 9%. The Caribbean market grew by 21%, buoyed principally by the French market. Statistics indicate that at the end of May, 22,142 visitors from the Caribbean came to Saint Lucia. However, the length of stay for the Caribbean segment was shorter, he said.

The island’s second-largest market segment, the United Kingdom, did not fare so well, dipping by 7.8% over the year-to-date comparison period. Lewis said the depreciation of the pound sterling against the U.S. dollar was a major factor for the drop which resulted in an increase in the cost of the average U.K. visitor’s vacation to the Caribbean.

Visitor arrivals via cruise vessels went up by 3% over the past year, representing an additional 4,000 visitors to the island. Lewis said yachting arrivals continue to remain “positive”, adding that entry requirements for yachts have improved considerably.

“We have been able to maintain that growth in arrivals despite the fact that one of our significant properties of at least 300-room capacity was out of the market for the month of May. However, we were able to grow by 7.2% in May,” Lewis said.

According to SLTB officials, figures for the first four months of this year were the highest ever recorded. Also, last month’s 29,658 arrival figure was the highest ever recorded in history for the month of May.

Lewis said on-island expenditure continues to grow at a faster pace than the increase in arrivals. He singled out the high quality of the product and the wide range of opportunities for people to engage in activities outside of the hotel plant, as well as the synergies between the industry’s players as reasons for such successes.

Lewis said the SLTB continues to negotiate for direct airlift from key markets to Saint Lucia. He said a direct service from Chicago to Saint Lucia via United is scheduled to take flight in December. Additional service on U.S. Airways between Saint Lucia and New Jersey – a major hub in the Tri-State area — is also expected to come on stream, he said.

Stan Bishop began his career in journalism in March 2008 writing freelance for The VOICE newspaper for six weeks before being hired as a part-time journalist there when one of the company’s journalists was overseas on assignment.

Although he was initially told that the job would last only two weeks, he was able to demonstrate such high quality work that the company offered him a permanent job before that fortnight was over. Read full bio...

16 Comments

  1. The dip in arrivals from the UK may be due to factors other than the depreciation of the value of the Sterling vs. the US $. Has Barbados experienced a similar drop?

  2. “The Caribbean market grew by 21%….”
    ———————————————————————–
    So why are tourism officials, here, patting themselves on the back? Aren’t we part of the Caribbean?
    Fire everyone of those useless officials (and use the money to clean-up the place), and tourists will still come to St.Lucia.

  3. Interesting point CK. Whenever there’s talk about improving the tourism product, issues such as the physical appearance of the city; the unsightly heaps of garbage; the proliferation of sidewalk vendors etc, never comes up. Also there’s this fixation with arrival statistics, when every tourism planner and official knows this is only a small part of the overall picture. As for all this talk about high-end facilities —-we know that the cost of a room bears no relationship to “tourist spend” at a destination. Rooms of paid for through credit cards and only a small part of that income returns to the bank accounts of hotel owners and operators to meet their operational costs. We really have to get serious about getting a true idea of the impact of tourism on the economy and society.

    1. With three Sandals resorts; the most outside of Jamaica; with Jade Mountain, the #1 resort in the Caribbean; with the Pitons, the #1 tourist attraction in the Caribbean; all we can do is to be a little ahead of St.Vincent and Dominica; whereas, we should be up there with places like St.Thomas and St.Martin..

  4. Addenum
    Sandals, Jade or any of the top\ tier resorts can stage that performance, with modifications, as part of a late night/after dinner/entertainment package.
    If the best of local models /dancers are hired with premier director/choreographer-
    said staging can be an additional layer of revenue for local talent via ticket sales.
    There, messrs ck & sis a small but p\ositive contribution to the optimistic article.
    When you are in a desert you learn to harvest DEW
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RpdOiq-2DFU
    When your country is clawing out of a major recession yuh need a collective spirit- later,
    divergent ideologies shall wade in with the tide of prosperity.
    Till then,
    WE the people MUST circle the wagons or tether securely with deliberate precautions as we climb from the edge of the abyss, patiently, n’est pas?

    1. Get rid of CARDINAL RICHLIEU and the entire department of tourism, and the number of visitors to St.Lucia will continue to grow; that’s how insignificant you are to the industry.

      Again, I repeat; put that huge payroll expenditure to better use, like giving the city that much needed facelift it so desperately needs.

  5. CK
    What do you think of the I LOVE NY campaign?
    Tourism in NY is the envy of every state.
    AND how did they do it?
    A tourism bureau that designs /commands the synergies of advertisement along with logistical support for key stake holders.
    Garcon, why you so jealous of the promoters?
    Did they turn down your resume with its modest Hospitality beginnings culminating in a CPA fellow?
    Malheuresment, it seems obvious that you have a patent personal interaction liability with them or flown your “colors” too vigorously.
    Have you seen the tourism department of New Mexico TV ad – well I have driven cross country , east -west and north -south which makes me a bona fide armchair reviewer of good state tourism campaigns. The ad is so good, as it highlights little known skiing opportunities for a state better known for its steaming Mesas and Taco Bell cuisine.
    So, what does this ad by the NM tourism folks do, it culls young eager winter sports enthusiasts on a shoestring budget AWAY from the more opulent resorts of Colorado- a next door neighbor.
    Its all good, the rich have theirs and the middle have a cost saving choice.
    Said mass marketing is Not possible without a tourism bureau. All 50 states have one-
    so according to your warped sensibilities, REMOTE ST. Lucia does not need an orchestrated Clarion call to draw masses of tourists to its shores. Good brief , we need Brahms and Mahler to help us with our tourism symphony.
    I am worried about your hate for things positively vital for St. Lucia!
    It may be time to introduce these irrational thoughts at your next Anger Management session with the clinical psychologist-fortunately covered on your medical plan.
    Don’t you just love NY-just about everything is insured.
    A final advice, your irrationality and hyperactive executive functions are still within the domain of extreme neuroses – beware you do not crossover into the realm of psychoses- where you also get treated by a psychiatrist.
    Garcon its baille fini-
    Here, you become a happy hours tablet swiggler for the massive NJ based pharmacy industry-right in your backyard. n’est pas?
    All covered by your job backed insurance, but that’s part of the decadence of city life -a tablet for anything that ails. No holistic alternatives.
    P|ease write a concise defense of your opinion instead of your dry quashcha!

  6. There is virulent disease of rampaging idiocy prevalent in this and the last administration’s punditry, when it comes to the numbers in tourism. Read that again because it bears repetition.

    Both parties, for very different reasons are as economically dumb as the other when it comes to what matters in tourism.

    One seemingly but misleadingly guided, is narrowly focused on airlift, even when taxpayers’ tax revenues are a sunk cost used to ferry air, empty seats from point A to point B. This is even in the escalation of stupidity with no connectivity to a realistic return on investment.

    The other is hell-bent of populating the ribbon of land skirting this nation’s coastline from north to south, east and west, with hotels providing, mainly low-paying jobs for bell-hops and maids. This economic and environmentally unsustainable myopic dumb thinking is further subsidized by tax holidays and thinking clamoring for an eradication of the VAT for this sector. Can we get any dumber than that?

    Therefore, the national labour force is actively subsidizing all those hallowed “best in class” sites on the island, reported in this and that travel and tourism magazine, year after year. Do you see a positive reflection in increasing the living standards of Saint Lucians?

    The retarded economists and their related ministries are oblivious to trickle-down impact of these numbers, which have no real or substantive economic multiplier for GDP growth.

    Ignorance is bliss. Boast of the numbers—with some revenue impact. Ignore the debilitating trickle-down and its economic stagnation effects.

    Where the heck did these people get their degrees from?

    Can you see the relationship outlined above and that which makes our economy mired in low growth, as one of the worst performers in the region? Check the recent IMF report.

    Neither of the leading party members has a clue to addressing the non-performing problem. Not one has ever articulated a convincing growth policy to date, that goes further beyond an expectation solid growth in economies that provide the tourist arrivals. That is the end all and be all of their “strategy of hope” for economic growth.

    It is high time and especially for the sake of our youth, that someone tells those idiotic lazy thinkers that hope is not a strategy.

    Meanwhile, the social and economic implosion characteristically becomes part and parcel of the national culture. White-collar and black-collar crime metastasizes as an integral cancerous part of our national landscape.

  7. CARDINAL RICHLIEU, what is more cost effective; our tourism department receiving hundreds of millions of dollars annually from our small national budget to promote St.Lucia abroad only for visitors to arrive here to find an 18th century delapidated city; or to cut down on the advertising and use that money here at home to beautify our city and roadways, allowing the visitors to return to their respective coutries to spread the word around?

    Our immigration department and SLASPA, which is in charge of all ports of entry (and not the tourism department), are quite capable of telling us how many visitors visited our shores annually; and with a 5 million dollar advertising/promotion budget, together with our world famous Piton, we should be alright.

    And by the way, any time someone offers a different point of view, you are quick to suggest that they have some sort of mental problem. Wow!

  8. That’s the thing with hacks. It’s OK for the Tourism Minister to raise concerns about the disgusting state of Castries. But once someone outside de party says anything it’s licks fuh dem.

    If Castries remains the eyesore that it is, it’s only a matter of time before cruise line pull out.

    Both parties have been trying to fool the people with these half- baked stats that tell only one part of the story. Richelieu should go down to Soufriere to see what impact of a 5 percent rise in arrivals is having on that town. He should talk to the taxi drivers who are left high and dry on cruise days as tour operators drive away with the cream of the crop.

  9. Touche CK
    You offered a tard more conversation to support your divergent viewpoint. Sometimes, folks come on hurling objections with hardly a sentence in support of their viewpoints.
    Rest assured, that as long as our political purpose is guided by “what is in the best interests of St.Lucia”, we shall garnish civil conversations that generate upwards excellence for the good of this island nation.
    Castries is going through a phase that Newark, NJ; Harlem NY; Watts, CA; Detroit and Flint MI; South and West side Chicago, IL, all went through-urban blight! This is a monumental and intricate infrastructure objective.
    The mechanism of local and national govt. does not allow the kind of rapid revitalization that you envision. UWP MPs dominate the representation of Castries. Note the infighting and potential for political retribution for various political acts of “perceived public humiliation”-among them
    Within this “Mogadishu” style of clan sectarianism, only a UN sponsored development programme may be allowed to operateT safely and successfully.
    I am also a keen supporter of nations having an administrative capital separate from the commercial capital.
    When NYC went belly up, i.e, near BANKRUPT back in the day- it was the graft free distance of Albany that calmly fettered the runaway financial situation with an objective commission to manage the city council.
    One more hurdle to revitalization: In my school days at RC, I made daily short cut across Jeremie St CDC buildings- clean and quiet dominated the many units occupied by mostly working professionals. Therefore, as the socio economic status of residents of “tenements” collectively approach the poverty line, it appears that a group form of reckless social disarray manifests itself. The same has been documented for the public housing situation in the cities mentioned above. As a result the proverbial “you can take Tarzan out of the Jungle but you can never take the Jungle out of Tarzan” rings true today.
    There is an old joke among continental European park maintenance staff : Whenever there is visible litter they say”aha, the yanks visited today”.
    Castries has endemic sociological problem that needs massive intervention -even before infrastructure revitalization.
    The face lift that you propose requires a matrix or interface that can align all the layers of Castries government officials..cohesively as well as coherently.
    Frankly, I am for the entire city being redeveloped along the lines of BATTERY PARK CITY , NYC and leased to corporate subsidiaries. The entire Morne facing the harbor could be terraced with luxury condominiums for the international workers of said subsidiaries . Alpine trams could serve as transport linking its slopes to the dredged basin below it.
    Preserve the square for heritage walks .
    Vigie Airport runway would make a nice strip of high rise circular residential rental towers. International folks will pay for the astounding views and access to recreational beach, a la Rio, Brazil
    Yessiree we should convert the dilapidated city into a swanky international cash cow.
    The displacement of locals and matters of imminent domain- we shall save for the yuletide season forum, oui?
    Starboy/
    I know seasoned as in very long term taxi drivers in both the Soufriere and Hewanorra markets. I do empathize and appreciate your candor with supporting evidence. However, the hospitality industry is best known for its ripple or domino effect.Yes, tour operators are ahead of the curve -before local taxis. Why? Country of origin travel agents and onboard cruise sales officers sell deep discount packages while the land based local tour operators absorb but make up for in volume and dedicated contracts. In essence, the taxi folks must get more creative and link up with the hotels/resorts for exclusives. Or, wait for the surplus
    of boom times.

  10. “… only a UN sponsored development programme may be allowed to operate safely and successfully.”
    ————————————————————————————-

    RICHLIEU, why do you have to make a mountain out of a molehill? We don’t need any UN intervention to clean-up and beautify Castries.
    Did the UN intervene in the rehabilitation of Conway and the Water Front? I don’t think so. All that is required to help transform our city is to re-allocate (for the next 5 to 10 years) a sizeable portion of the tourism department annual budget (which is spent mostly overseas anyway) toward the rehabilitation of Castries; tackling one block or one street at a time: paving the streets, properly; fixing the sidewalks, properly; fixing and painting the buildings, properly; tearing down those that are outdated or beyond repair and replacing them with modern structures; organizing the out-of-control mini-bus system; planting trees and flowers where appropriate; placing garbage receptacles throughout the city and having a small workforce to man these things; etc., etc.

    These simple steps, which wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg, could help transform our city to something more pleasant for both visitors and locals alike; and without UN intervention..

  11. Richelieu I appreciate your acknowledgement of the plight of taxi drivers. Truth be told things are likely to get more difficult for them in a market that is becoming more controlled in one sense (by powerful tour operators) and more open in another sense ( by the proliferation of online consumer booking options). Those taxi drivers who rely solely on cruise business will suck salt if these trends continue. What do you think can be done to boost Soufriere’s take from Tourism?

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