THE MINISTER FOR COMMERCE, TOURISM, INVESTMENT & CONSUMER AFFAIRS
THE HONOURABLE PHILIP J. PIERRE
Press Conference - March 07, 2002
Government Information Service at 10:00 AM
This press conference is a discussion on the future of the tourism industry finding ways by which we can minimize the factors that affect our competitiveness and generally to build a tourism product that provides our visitors with a vacation experience that surpasses their expectations.
Last month, I had the opportunity to join the Chairman and Director of the St. Lucia Tourist Board on a visit to the USA, when we met with most of our major wholesale tour operators. The discussions we had were very encouraging - every operator is projecting increased bookings to St. Lucia this year.
In the case of the UK market, the issue is the inadequate number of airline seats to the Eastern Caribbean . The latest market intelligence from the UK indicates both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways are showing very strong bookings well into July this year.
Discussions are underway with both airlines, with the view to increasing lift from the UK.
In the case of the US, the airlift situation has improved. US Airways has added a second non-stop flight from Philadelphia following their inaugural flight to St. Lucia in December last year.
The Caribbean market, which grew by 10.5 percent in 2001, continues to do well and we expect 2002 will be the best year for intra-regional tourism for St. Lucia.
Of course the tourism industry can be victim to a number of factors which are completely beyond our control. While these
projections are quite encouraging they depend on unpredictable factors like weather conditions in St. Lucia and our main markets, global economic and political factors that St. Lucia cannot influence.
The key to maintaining a sustainable growth is through an aggressive and creative marketing strategy with an enhanced, competitive tourism product.
From the marketing point of view the St. Lucia will embark on a generic television advertising campaign to begin in April in the USA and the UK. In the Caribbean, the TV campaign will be events driven - promoting the Jazz Festival, Carnival and the two one-day international cricket matches.
Late last year the St. Lucia Tourist Board unveiled its new marketing communication strategy to better define and differentiate St. Lucia from its competitors. The new marketing
strategy included a new logo, and new collateral material for both the regional and international markets.
The Tourist Board has also developed a brand new interactive website that provides more information on St. Lucia’s tourism product -
This past year St. Lucia’s tourism industry has also received some very impressive world-class awards. These achievements prove we can hold our own among the best on the world stage. We must not be complacent about these endorsements and natural advantages. With the fierce competition from around the world, we must remain committed to modernizing, upgrading and refocusing our tourism offerings.
Tourism is tough business - let us make these achievements benchmarks for raising our product standards and visitor experience to levels comparable to any other destination in the world. Most importantly, all tourism sector interests, large and small, public and private, need now to reflect on what needs to be done to ensure the long-term viability of tourism in St. Lucia.
It is for this reason that the Ministry of Tourism, together with private sector interests will be holding a National Tourism Policy Forum tomorrow, aimed at ensuring that St. Lucia’s tourism industry continues to respond to the changes in the marketplace and to be able to compete internationally.
St. Lucia’s tourism industry will face many challenges in the future. Our ability to work together in a spirit of compromise will be the determining factor as we attempt to put in place the correct policy measures to grow and safeguard our tourism industry. We must never forget that as a growing destination, St. Lucia is competing with the entire world and our efforts must match, if not outdo, this increased global competition.
To that end the Ministry of Tourism in collaboration with its private sector partners must work together to deal with the factors that will damage of our tourism product. The problems of noise pollution, overpricing, respect for ourselves and our visitors, questionable environmental practices are some of the
pressing issues that must be eliminated if we are to ensure a high quality tourism product.
I am confident that partnership and co-operation between the Government the St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association, the Nature Heritage Tourism Unit and other service providers will provide the platform upon which we will build a profitable tourism industry where the benefits of the industry will be shared by all St. Lucians.
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