Letters & Opinion

Tourism Matters!

By Paul Collymore, SLHTA President

ACROSS the region, November is being observed as Caribbean Tourism Month. This annual observance was introduced in 2011 and seeks to raise awareness among Caribbean people of the importance of tourism to the development of the region.

It is no secret that tourism is a mainstay of many of our economies. The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), in its 2022 Travel and Tourism in the Caribbean report, noted “The Caribbean is the region most reliant on Travel & Tourism globally. In fact, eight out of the ten most tourism-dependent countries globally in 2019 were in the Caribbean region.” The WTCC further states, “Travel & Tourism was also a vital contributor to employment in the region with 2.75 million people employed in the sector in 2019, accounting for 15.2% of all employment.”

Caribbean Tourism Month is held to:

• Raise awareness among Caribbean people of the importance of tourism in the Caribbean

• Enhance the profile of the Caribbean tourism sector in the marketplace

• Reflect on the invaluable impact of tourism on the economic, social and cultural well being in the Caribbean

• Celebrate the diversity of what the Caribbean offers

As I reflect on this year’s theme “One Caribbean: Investing in Our People, Protecting Our Planet, Prosperity for All,” I am reminded of the significant investment tourism makes to Saint Lucia. This vital sector positively impacts nearly every household: with over fifteen thousand individuals employed directly, and an additional fifty-five thousand benefiting indirectly.

However, this investment cannot be measured solely by the number of jobs provided. Healthcare, security, education and the environment also benefit. The industry’s far-reaching impact was especially felt during the island’s recovery from the disastrous COVID-19 pandemic. Key alliances were formed with government agencies, civil society groups and private organisations resulting in meaningful change.

During this uncertain period, and although the industry was at a standstill, the tourism private sector stepped up to the plate and made timely donations of equipment and supplies to the healthcare sector, supported the National Meals Programme and made targeted interventions towards youth development. Over 1.4 million was disbursed through the SLHTA’s philanthropic arm the Tourism Enhancement Fund.


On the health front, the SLHTA assisted in the purchasing of a commercial washer, vaccine freezer and the establishment of a Meals Programme for medical and administrative staff at the Respiratory Hospital. Together with the Lions Club of Gros Islet the Association facilitated prostate-specific antigen test for over 500 men to learn their status.

The tourism private sector is committed to investing in the health of people. To this end, the SLHTA is currently forging partnerships with key health organsiations. In October 2023, we held fruitful discussions with the St. Lucia Cancer Society, Saint Lucia Diabetes & Hypertension Association and the Saint Lucia Blind Welfare Association to discuss areas of collaboration. The SLHTA will provide various forms of support to these organisations as they seek to tackle the scourge of non-communicable diseases on island.


The SLHTA continues to place a strong focus on Human Resource Development, with a view to upskilling the workforce and providing life-changing opportunities for at-risk youth. A number of training workshops have been held for 2023 including:

• Caribbean Supercharged Service Training from the CHTA Education Foundation

• Artificial Intelligence

• Lifesaving Training

• Diving certification

Apiculture training for hospitality workers, and scholarships to pursue an Associate Degree in Tourism Studies at Palm Beach State College, are in the pipeline.


Over the past few years, the Association has made a concerted effort to strengthen its relationship with the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force. In addition to equipment donations, the Association has funded training programmes and workshops for the Force. Most recently two hundred officers benefited from workshops in Professional Development and Artificial Intelligence.


In June 2023 the SLHTA’s TEF provided start-up financing of US$100,000 to the Saint Lucia National Conservation Fund towards the creation of the Marine Health Alliance. The health alliance will provide the tourism industry with an added opportunity to raise financing to undertake key sustainable tourism projects in marine spaces. It will support marine conservation, protect threatened biodiversity and promote healthy ocean ecosystems and reefs.

As the SLHTA prepares to observe its 60th anniversary, we pledge to continue working with all stakeholders to invest in Our People and Protect our Planet. Together we can continue to develop a sustainable tourism industry that benefits all. Most importantly, we thank our stakeholders for their unwavering support and investor confidence in our people, product expansion and development.

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