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Saint Lucia Reaches Record Levels for Tourism

Visitor Arrivals to destination increased by 12 %

By Reginald Andrew
SLTA CEO Lorine Charles St. Jules
SLTA CEO Lorine Charles St. Jules

With Saint Lucia in “high demand” as a tourist destination, industry personnel are upbeat about the country’s performance and are reporting increased visitor arrivals to the destination over the past year.

On Tuesday at a media briefing as part of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority’s [SLTA] annual mid-year review, tourism officials presented an update on the happenings. Reports indicate that there was an overall increase of 12% in visitor arrivals to the destination from 2022 to 2023.

Minister for Tourism and Creative Industries Dr. Ernest Hilaire stated that Saint Lucia “started hard off the blocks” as the industry seeks to create wider gains in a global and highly competitive industry.

He noted that the island is not only revered for its ‘beautiful scenery’ but has also been recognized as a major events destination.

“When we started this year we were very acutely aware that the year was going to be one which would have some highs and some lows,” declared Dr. Hilaire.

“We had seen, based on the projections for the year, that we would have had a very good first half of the year,” he said, adding, “we noted that there were going to be challenges in the middle, in the summer period …and to improve towards the end of the year.”

Based on the latest tourism performances, the minister said Saint Lucia recovered strongly and was listed in the “top three countries that performed exceptionally well last year.”

As the season opened up it was always going to be a challenge coming up against larger countries, and so, declared Dr. Hilaire, “We were hard off the blocks from July, 2021 … and we recognized and reviewed the efforts that were being done by the last government to prepare Saint Lucia for opening up.

And so, we took a deliberate decision that we would intensify the work they had started and we were going to put an extra effort into promoting Saint Lucia and … the work that had been started.”

He said one of the major challenges confronting the industry was that fewer airline seats were available, in addition to the air travel situation that was unfolding in Europe, particularly the United Kingdom, and how that would impact the destination.

Consequently, said the minister, the authorities took a bold and decisive step to rejuvenate the island’s marketing and promotions campaign with a heavy focus on hosting of events.

He recalled that several more meetings and events were being held here including the Citizens by Investment Programme (CIP) conference, Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) meeting, and enterprise development.

The minister explained that “Sports Tourism” was another component of the promotions package.

Hilaire declared that in terms of arrivals for the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival, “we also had an exceptional jazz festival … and for carnival last year we were the first destination to host an open carnival.”

SLTA’s CEO Lorine Charles St. Jules presented a refreshing outlook on the industry and bright prospects for future growth.

“Saint Lucia has made a sustainable comeback, we have been resilient …and Saint Lucia as a destination is nearing record levels of production for tourism,” said St. Jules.

The CEO disclosed that by the end of July 2023, “Saint Lucia recorded a 12% growth of stay arrivals from 2022 to 2023.

“This represents 235, 000 so far compared to 35,000 visitor arrivals over 2019, which now puts the destination at 90% of 2019 arrivals which is the benchmark.”

St Jules alluded to this latest developmental trend as a “high demand” for the destination and the resumption of travel arrangements as “Saint Lucia continues to be a choice destination.”

She noted that January and May this year were “the stellar months” for the destination, where 3% growth was recorded over the 2019 figures.

The CEO said for June and July the country experienced “some dips”. However, she recalled, from March (2023), “this expected dip was due mainly to a decline of stock and the UK challenges as well as some of the unexpected economic woes both in the US, the UK and some contractions as well in the Caribbean.”

This year, the Caribbean was projected as one of the “growth pillars” for the industry compared to last year, and according to the SLTA official, by all accounts, there has been “such growth”.

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