ADDRESS BY THE HON. MINISTER OF COMMERCE, TOURISM, INVESTMENT AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS TO THE TOURISM FORUM
HELD ON MARCH 08, 2002
This forum is for planning and reflection, with a single purpose; that is to safeguard and further the interests of St. Lucia’s most vital tourism industry. That task Ladies and Gentlemen requires a consensus building approach to policy formulation. It requires the collective wisdom of all partners whether beyond or within the sector. It requires the pooling of our human, capital and institutional resources, the adoption of a more unified and purposeful approach to problem solving, the sharing of a single vision for the industry’s future.
Tourism is susceptible to vagaries like the weather, as well as economic conditions in source markets, but unlike any other it is also at the mercy of perceptions of political, social and economic instability. The very essence of tourism relates to the visitor’s experience and we know only too well that the actions or inaction of almost any agency, whether public or private, can affect that experience.
St. Lucia’s potential for tourism development is seemingly boundless but we can no longer afford the missed opportunities for maximizing our growth and development potential. The competition is now more acute than ever and not only for visitor arrivals, but for investment, development, financing and human capital.
The reality therefore is that as a small developing country with limited resources we must understand that the future of tourism in St. Lucia, and indeed the future of our economy and society, will be shaped by our ability to compete effectively.
All, Public Officials, Hoteliers, Groundhandlers, Travel Agents, Taxi Drivers, Vendors, Airlines and Tour Operators, must work together in a Partnership for Competitiveness. In this partnership the role of the public sector includes creating the enabling policy framework for competition, while the private sector produces goods and services competitively.
Tourism more than ever is a business and we must without exception adopt a business like attitude to its management.
Let us therefore use this policy forum as a catalyst for change. Let us begin the process of consultation, policy formulation and implementation, with a view to realising St. Lucia’s true potential in this increasingly competitive world of tourism.
The Ministry of Tourism pledges its unconditional commitment to the process. Indeed, the Government of St. Lucia, is committed to a number of policy initiatives including the following:
They are the broad policy areas targeted for implementation by the government. Nevertheless, the conclusions of our Policy Forum should add to and crystallize those initiatives. We must all therefore dedicate ourselves to the effective implementation of the programme of policies agreed upon after today.
Ladies and Gentlemen the future is in our hands. We can use today as just another opportunity to point fingers, whine incessantly and lay blame for mistakes past and current problems. Or we can use this Forum as a veritable watershed; an occasion to usher in a new approach to problem solving, a fresh commitment to building a brighter future for our country, our family, ourselves.
May I humbly suggest that we choose the latter.
I thank you.
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