Tuesday, July 15, 2003 - Tourism officials are reporting significant
increases in visitor arrivals to the island from one of their major markets;
that of the United States. According to Tourism Director Hilary Modeste,
heightened and targeted marketing initiatives have begun paying off with figures
for the first six months of this year, showing a three (3) percent growth rate
over the previous year.
Modeste says there is much optimism that the figures will continue to rise as
the Tourist Board moves closer to its goal of getting back to the levels of
visitor arrivals which peaked in 2000.
“In fact, when I look at the figures the only months in the year 2003 where we
had declines out of the US market were the months of February and March which
coincided with the war in Iraq. All the other months including the month of
June, where we recorded our highest increase of 9.6%, are out of the US market,”
Travel agents provide eighty (80) percent of the business coming to St. Lucia
even with the advent of internet bookings. Meantime as a further commitment to
US based travel agents, the Tourist Board will institute a Specialist Programme
later this year. “The aim of the programme is to educate travel agents on the
destination through intensive information packed seminars as well as farm-trips
to the island, after which the travel agents will receive their certification as
St. Lucia-Specialists,” said Modeste.
A memorandum of understanding which was signed between the
Institute of Certified Travel Agents and the St. Lucia Tourist Board is expected
to take effect in six months.