Press Release – Tourism, particularly in this COVID-19 era, has not had the easiest of times; particularly when it comes to public perception. This has sadly been compounded by the SLP’s jingoistic slogan of Friends, Family and Foreigners. But the esteemed guests at last Sunday’s Flambeau Forum took an insightful look, not only at Tourism as a standalone industry but at its positive impact on all segments of Saint Lucian society.
“I remember when we assumed office, the numbers were significantly down in cruise arrivals,” recalled Dominic Fedee, MP for Anse-la-Raye/Canaries. “Now this is significant for people who work in the Tourism and Attractions subsector; taxi drivers at La Place Carenage and also Pointe Seraphine. It would mean that they would have less ability to make money. This would also mean the same for the vendors at the market, the vendors at the Vendor’s Arcade; and all the beach vendors who rely on tourists to rent chairs on our beaches.”
The Tourism Minister went on to stress the crucial role the revival of the Tourism Industry will play in allowing many Saint Lucians to go back to work and earn a living.
Soufriere MP Herod Stanislas further explained how the setbacks suffered by the Tourism Industry last year, was felt by all of his constituents. “It is clear that constituencies like mine and those of my colleagues were negatively impacted due to COVID-19. Tourism provides thousands of jobs for our constituents. In Soufriere alone, our three premier resorts; Sugar Beach, Anse Chastanet Jade Mountain, Ladera, employ over 1200 people; and all this without even taking into account the Airbnbs, private villas, guest houses and the smaller resorts.”
“So the COVID-19 impact was significant,” explained Stanislas. “When you look at the huge number of layoffs at those resorts, it gives you just a glimpse into the economic and social toll the COVID-19 pandemic had on lives and livelihoods.”
The Physical Planning Minister summed his message up with this zinger: “For Saint Lucia to work, for Soufriere to work, Tourism must work. There’s no doubt about it. In the Soufriere constituency, this dollar; this tourism dollar goes to every nook and cranny. There’s a trickledown effect to the barbers, hair salons, shopkeepers, bars, restaurants, farmers, fishermen and butchers. Every single person benefits from the Tourism dollar in Soufriere.”
Lenard Montoute also spoke to the key role Tourism plays in his constituency. “Due to the pandemic, we were struck in a significant way in Gros Islet. Many of my constituents are involved in the Hospitality and Service Industries; and all those industries were shut down completely, sending everything into a tailspin. Now that we are seeing a gradual reopening, people are breathing a sigh of relief. The kick starting of the economy is a welcome sight. Many of our people are beginning to go back to work and not a day too soon. And so, that will help alleviate the suffering and hardships that many families experienced.”
“As a country” Montoute concluded, “we are now able to return to the course the UWP set back in 2016, which we were already reaping the benefit of before the pandemic.”