A chat with Richard Moss, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority’s sr. sales manager, brings with it optimism for the new year. “The year 2021 appears to be filled with promise of recovery and sharp innovation; sparked by intense competition. DMO’s around the world are having to dig really deep to identify their organic differentiators to grab the attention of their increasingly demanding publics. Brands that have been conscientious and present during the pandemic and the strategic disruptors in the market have the best potential to prevail.”

As it relates to Saint Lucia, Moss says the destination “has started investing in transforming its tourism sector—evolving to fulfill the goals of increasing sustainability, rural opportunity, guest spend and most importantly—local inclusion and ownership. The foray into Village tourism is the vehicle to achieve this; as it best supports many of the leading trends for travel in 2021.”

Moss says that the way people will travel in 2021 is set to further evolve: “expedited airport service on arrival will increase in popularity; villas and alternate accommodations will return to prominence; highly-curated experiences to small groups and bespoke private experiences will soar; cultural immersions and authentic travel will hit new levels; elopements in exotic locations will be in vogue, to satisfy couples’ romantic aspirations of tying their knot in paradise; sustainable travel will continue to grow; and insurance will become a staple on travel packages.” Moss goes on to say that he believes family travel and inspiring wellness travel will grow the most.

“More than ever,” he continues, “the irony of the year 2020 and the broken dreams associated with it, will lead the public to “live their best lives” whether for their well-being or their Instagram. The losses have taught us to make the best of what we do have, underscored the importance of family and never taking travel for granted.

Saint Lucia
(Photo credit: Ronald Raoul)

“I expect the Caribbean as a region will experience a significant growth and benefit from a long-term halo effect for seasons to come.”

In fact, since opening its borders four months ago and welcoming its first international flight on July 9, more than 16,000 visitors have enjoyed Saint Lucia. The suite of protocols in place include the requirement of a COVID-19 PCR test seven days in advance and pre-registration before travel. Visitors may stay at COVID-19-certified hotels and also participate in a variety of COVID-certified activities (including popular experiences such as Piton boat cruises, snorkeling, ziplining and more). Saint Lucia has on-island protocols in place in public spaces and at resorts, to build confidence for consumers and help create the most enriching vacation experience possible.

“In keeping with the accompanying increased demand for higher levels of customization, there are indications of
an increased fascination with private experiences versus shared experiences. More than ever, the more
mature traveler will demand an expert concierge to
ensure they get precisely what they crave and logistics they are satisfied with.” — Richard Moss,
Sr. Sales Manager, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority

In addition to the SLEX travel advisor program, Saint Lucia began a complimentary webinar program “Saint Lucia Resort Update” during COVID, which immerses agents in the ins-and-outs of various hotels across the island. These webinars continue, providing an up-to-date overview of COVID protocols and then a deep dive into the amenities and offerings of specific hotels in Saint Lucia. The updates are provided by the hotels’ sales and marketing reps and help agents to learn about the key selling points, offers and amenities that their clients are looking for.

Additionally, projects for Village Tourism continue, with a new initiative focusing on developing the quaint fishing village of Anse La Raye (details to be announced soon). Village Tourism is a unique program developed by Saint Lucia in 2019, an initiative focused on driving community tourism while encouraging visitors to immerse themselves in the rich history and authentic culture of the island.

“The statistics show a very large number of folks browsing via smart devices. However, the invaluable guidance and necessity of a travel expert will  more than ever be seen as essential. Given the increased access to technology accompanied by smart devices/apps, social media will continue to influence consumer behavior.” — Richard Moss,
Sr. Sales Manager, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority

Canada’s Cabot brand continues to move forward with a new luxury golf resort, resort and residential community—the brand’s first international property. Located on Point Hardy, a 375-acre peninsula at the northern tip of the island. Cabot Saint Lucia broke ground on phase one of development in the summer of 2019. Golf holes at Cabot Point will be available for preview play in 2021, with the full course and main suite of amenities coming in 2022. The hotel is expected to open in 2023.

In October, Hyatt Corporation announced that a 345-room luxury Grand Hyatt hotel is expected to open in 2023. A new-build resort, Grand Hyatt St. Lucia will be located on the southwestern corner of the island in Sunset Bay, Choiseul.

Nonstop flights from key markets have been reinstated and continue to be reintroduced, including the JetBlue flights from New York and Boston, American Airlines from Miama, Delta Air Lines from Atlanta and United from Newark.

For more information, visit stlucia.org.