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ECLAC Host Another National Yachting Consultation

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Contact: John Emmanuel

Thursday, May 16, 2002 - Appropriate measures continue to be put in place that will allow St. Lucia to fully benefit from the exciting opportunities for economic growth to be derived from the yachting sector. That’s the word from Minister for Commerce, Tourism, Investment and Consumer Affairs Hon. Philip J. Pierre as he addressed representatives attending a national consultation on yachting at the bay Gardens Hotel on Thursday, May 16, 2002.

According to Minister Pierre, Government remains cognisant of the sector’s importance in diversifying the tourism product and generating significant economic activity. He says however it is far from the truth to assert that little has been done to reposition the sub-sector in order to maximize its potential. Only recently the Cabinet of Ministers he noted, approved a comprehensive package for the yachting sector that includes tax-free concessions for yachts registered in St. Lucia.

“Concerning the matter of taxation and the current discussions surrounding taxation in tourism, let me assure you that the hotels in St. Lucia, most of them pay no income tax and receive duty free concessions on all imports and also get concessions for several other factors,” said the Minister. He went on say, “it is therefore very unfair to say that the Government of St. Lucia taxes the hotel sector unequally to other sectors. What is important is that we need to understand that the hotel sector gets it fair share of tax free concessions and it’s only recently that the yachting sector began to enjoy those benefits.”

Minister Pierre says not only must the macro factors be dealt with, but the micro factors of yachting must also be taken into consideration. In light of that he has called for a level playing field for yachtsmen and an easing of restrictions from both customs and immigration officials. “When a yachtsman comes to St. Lucia, the treatment he receives from the Customs and Immigration may decide whether he returns or not. There are several emotional factors that relate to yachts people and these factors are not unfounded but there is need for a pyramid shift, a shift in attitude and I want to plead to Customs officials to treat yachtsmen as normal ordinary visitors and stop stereotyping yachtsmen in what ever way that we believe.”

The national consultation, the second of its kind, brought together various stakeholders with the aim of improving the competitiveness of the yachting sector. The hope is that planners and policy makers would be better informed to guide and ensure the sustainability of the sector. The activity was organized and funded by the Trinidad based United Nations Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC).


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