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Wednesday, April 4, 2007 – The ministry of tourism is taking the island's tourism industry one step further with the introduction of the Village Tourism Program. The announcement was made by tourism minister Senator the Hon. Allan Chastanet, at a recent culinary skills training Program in Anse La Raye, organized by the Basic Needs Trust Fund and the Anse-La-Raye Seafood Vendors Association. The minister said despite the many big resorts and high end boutiques, the island's villages are one of its distinguishable factors.

“No other island in the Caribbean has the number of unique villages that we have,” he said. “The difficulty we have is that the villages traditionally have been just for fishing or just for living because we've had farmers who have been living in them; and we have never appreciated the waterfront. Anse- La- Raye, in the early 90's saw the power of the waterfront in creating its fish fry on that waterfront,” Minister Chastanet added.

The Village Tourism Program is also about giving the tourist an opportunity to develop a relationship with the communities. According to the Tourism Minister, “All too often we do not practice the art of seduction in St. Lucia; we just get straight to the point. And we put the vendors right up front and the vendors are trying this hard sell, and the people have yet not developed a relationship with our community, with our island, and therefore they are turned off by it.”

Mr. Chastanet told the seafood vendors that the government of St. Lucia was devoted to providing them with the requisite assistance, to help them make the next step, “so that you will now not just
be vending on the side of the road, or on a Friday night, but the goal is that you are going to own
your own restaurant, the goal is that you will own a small hotel, maybe 5,10, 20 rooms with its own little restaurant downstairs,” added Chastanet.

Other communities he added, need to emulate the examples of Gros-Islet and Anse- La-Raye. The Tourism Minister said the success of tourism will depend on the support of of residents in the various communities.

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