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Tourism Minister: Saint Lucia set to Upgrade its Tourism Infrastructure Development

Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire
Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire

Tasked with undertaking a quarterly review on the performance of the tourism industry, the Tourism Advisory Committee seems to have released some exciting developments taking place within the industry.

Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire revealed this much at a press conference Monday.

He said the committee, at its last meeting, reviewed new developments coming onstream that include; the Mt. Pinard Development, Reduit Beach development, Sabwisha (Choiseul), Black Bay and other developments to be implemented over the next few months.

Hilaire said, the committee discussed challenges in store for the coming year, with less room accommodation predicted to accommodate visitors “as a number of rooms come off the market”.

“Already St James Club, which is almost 350 rooms, those rooms are not on the market right now and we expect in the middle of the year for both Mystic and Starfish to also close for new construction works to start,” Hilaire explained.

He estimated that almost 900 rooms would be “off the market” right now, placing some “stress and strain” on the industry.

“There is a huge demand for rooms in Saint Lucia, so as we prepare to get more rooms we will go through a challenging   period,” the minister noted.

Nevertheless, he said, in the next two to three years it is anticipated that “1000 new rooms” will be constructed in Saint Lucia, “which is a desirable numbers that we want to achieve.”

Hilaire said that as the destination looks to enhance its tourism product, the cruise tourism infrastructure will be upgraded.

“We are expecting the cruise tourism infrastructure to improve with the GPH product being implemented , the developments in Port Castries and we will be doing some dredging at Pt. Seraphine,” he said. “The boardwalk that will be built at the Waterfront to introduce a new experience, an Amphitheatre at Serenity Park, a new Vendors Arcade, the Fishermen’s Village in Bananes and the redevelopment of the Soufriere Waterfront.”

Added Hilaire: “So, Saint Lucia’s cruise tourism infrastructure will be significantly upgraded in the next couple years.”

The minster stated that at the next parliamentary sitting, the Tourism Development Bill will be tabled. The bill, he said, aims “to transform the tourism industry, while offering more support for Saint Lucians getting involved in the industry and the Incentives Regime to be expanded beyond just accommodation, but to all sectors of the tourism industry.”

Hilaire declared that the bill will be “a major piece of legislation”. Other major pronouncements, he said, will include the reintroduction of the Rangers Unit. During its tenure, some years ago, he said, the unit was tasked with providing support to the police in certain areas, which falls under the purview of the National Conservation Authority (NCA).

The minister disclosed that the Rangers Unit will be reestablished “to ensure that we provide adequate security and support for the police in strategic areas.”

Referring to the development of the ‘tourism product’ in Saint Lucia, Hilaire asserted: “A lot is going to happen over the next couple of years to improve our tourism infrastructure and improved the product.

“But, most importantly for us, is that we want more Saint Lucians to get involved in the tourism industry. We want more Saint Lucians to participate and own the tourism industry.”

He added: “We believe the best approach is to achieve two main goals. Firstly, to get visitors to spend more money in Saint Lucia and secondly, to get more Saint Lucians owning the tourism industry.”

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