FOR those who came from near and far to take in the showpiece of the highly intense and intriguing battle for the US$150,000.00 stake, the final race of the day did capture the attention of all racing enthusiasts. The race, held last Friday at the Royal Saint Lucia Turf Club was quite a spectacle.
The day belonged to No.5 Casting Crowns trained by Deon Visser; Jockey – Qin Yong and owned by Frank Taylor of the USA who took home the US$150,000. and the trophy that came with it.
Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet who was at the event spoke to the media and this is what he had to say: “Hopefully this is a confidence booster. My Government has come in with a clear plan as to what we want to be able to do. Certainly that plan did not include DSH and Teo Ah Khing, to have met him and be able to share and support his vision which I believe is going to benefit of Saint Lucia”.
“What I want Saint Lucians to really appreciate is to look at the Caribbean. You have Port of Spain; Bridgetown; Kingston and Montego Bay, if I go around the Caribbean and ask people, give me the top 10 Cities, when do you think Vieux Fort or Castries would come in to that picture”, Chastanet said.
He added, “I am putting Saint Lucians on notice and the Caribbean on notice: Vieux Fort is going to become a household name; this is going to become the premier city destination in the Caribbean. I am very excited; I really believe in walking around with the many patrons: the citizens of Saint Lucia and particularly the people from the south that they can feel and touch and get a sense as to where we will be taking them”.
The Prime Minister took time out to congratulate DSH for their incredible work.
Said Chastanet,, “This is part of what we are doing; the Hospital; the Airport, the Cruise ship ports and the Hotel that will be starting very soon are all part of the total picture. We are now going to get Lausanne University of Switzerland, the top Hospitality University in the world to be able to open up a facility in Saint Lucia it’s really a tribute to DSH to be able to bring a project like that to the table, it’s a great opportunity for Saint Lucians and the people from the Caribbean”.
Tourism Minister, Dominic Fedee also weighed in on Friday’s event, saying, “It’s a big deal for us; it’s like a dream come true; it really adds another staple to the tourism product. We have been planning this project for many years and it’s really good to see it has come through; we have something else to sell. What we do have in Saint Lucia is one of the best horse racing tracks in the Caribbean that we are very proud of and it’s going to add significant dividends to our advantages as a tourism destination; it’s going to make the island a lot more marketable”.
“We see already the kind of individuals that are in this sector and that in itself does well for tourism investments which is a major pillar on which the economy and the industry needs to grow: this is a really spectacular day for us,” Fedee said’
“Very good turn out and support from the people of Saint Lucia and the Caribbean; the Caribbean is a significant market; we see a lot of regional press here. As we look to develop tourism, while we focus on our local development and policies; we have to ensure as well that we don’t abandon the regional network”, he added.
“The Tourism Minister said that at the moment Saint Lucia leads the CTO in terms of massive restructuring and so can have a stronger organization for tourism promotion and development dealing with a range of issues that impact tourism. “We are certainly seeing the abandonment and the ostracization of the Caribbean brand as a marketing initiative to bring about greater yields, greater arrival numbers to the Caribbean”, he said.
“We have seen the abandonment of very important data that is required for the development and the promotion of tourism in the region. The restructuring exercise is aimed at ensuring these two pillars are optimized. First of all build a strong and dynamic CTO that would be able to market the Caribbean and also build a strong repository tourism data so we can see the region becoming a very strong competitor to be able to compete with some of the leading regions in the world such as the Pacific and the Hawaii group of islands”, Fedee said.
He noted that once we do the right things and continue to develop our country, and continue to have the right policies, we will see not only the riders and investors coming, but we will see tourists coming as well. “We are very happy with the performance of the destination over the last three years; we are averaging about 8% annually and that is quite significant, year to date we are about 7 ½%”, he said.
“We are on a high right now; the World Travel Awards just said we are the world leading Honeymoon destination and that really gives as a lot of encouragment, it has to be strategic marketing, it has to be spending your money in the right areas. Saint Lucia’s budget is small in comparison to some of the bigger islands like the Bahamas and Jamaica; we simply do not have a marketing budget that could match that dollar for dollar”, Fedee noted.