THE St. Lucia Tourist Board’s transition into the St. Lucia Tourism Authority, which was expected to be in place two months ago, has been delayed.
Dominic Fedee, Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Tourism, said legislation to create the new entity will be going before Parliament this month-end.
“Everything is ready; all the systems are in place, we are ready to go,” he said.
Agnes Francis, SLTB’s Chairperson, said that due to the delay, action had to be taken to ensure that the Board’s marketing was continued.
“We have gone ahead and opened all the agency’s offices. In the United Kingdom, we reappointed Patricia Charlery-Leon. She used to be with the Tourist Board a few years ago. Now she is back to run the organization,” Francis said.
Marketing companies owned by St. Lucians in Canada and the United Kingdom have been hired and the old arrangements the Tourist Board had in the United States will continue as part of a move to reduce on the administrative cost of marketing the island. The marketing companies were selected primarily due to their knowledge of the country and the fact that they are owned by St. Lucians, Francis said.
“Instead of hiring officers and marketing managers by region, we decided we needed to be a lot more strategic with the market,” she said. “So we hired a head of marketing for the US, which has not happened in the past. We also hired somebody responsible for consumers. One of the things we have not taken up in the past was that the consumers are the ones making the decisions on tourism: on their travel, why they travel or how they travel. We have changed the approach to how we handle that segment of the market. We have one person responsible for consumer marketing,” Francis said.
She said the Board has identified key niches St. Lucia has a competitive advantage in and is developing a relationship with each, namely romance, culinary arts, soft adventure, dive, and health and wellness.
Regarding the growing Caribbean market, Francis said everything pertaining to that market will be handled in St. Lucia.
“Our approach is to develop relationships with key travel drivers. We have appointed public relations officers in all three markets and are taking a new approach to public relations,” she said.
The Board has secured an online platform called ‘Meltwater’ which, Francis says, allow the Board to do a number of things.
“Meltwater has several tools, one of which is a database of 600,000 journalists globally, so we could target those journalists and travel writers ourselves,” Francis said.
The Board, she said, had put a lot of resources into its online marketing. For instance, its summer promotions are driven by online marketing.
“Even though the Authority has not been announced, we have started the work of the Authority,” Francis said.