The primary purpose of the 2018 North America Showcase, hosted by the new Harbor Club, Curio Collection by Hilton, was the fostering of partnerships between Saint Lucia’s hotels and tour operators from the U.S. and Canada. No surprise there. For this reporter, though, the presentations by Dominic Fedee, the minister for tourism, information and broadcasting, and Prime Minister Allen Chastanet were, by themselves, worth the journey. Just for starters, their updates did not just concern new hotels.
“Last year was a very encouraging year for us, our best year in tourism arrival numbers,” said Fedee, quoting the Air & Seaport Authority’s findings of 386,000 arrivals. Moreover, “As of May, arrivals are up 5 percent year to date over 2017.”
Fedee described Saint Lucia’s Village Tourism to Recommend readers in June, and at this conference he offered further details. He reminded attendees of how his country is “transforming eight villages and towns into cultural destinations in their own right. We will have the festival village, the art village, the soca village…After all, this year Saint Lucia is the leading soca island in the region,” he said. He was referring, of course, to Dennery, a little village that has exploded onto the World Music scene with Koduru, a modernized, stripped-down soca style also known as the Dennery Segment.
The minister then described how Castries, starting with its marketplace, is undergoing a transformation, “not just physically, but with regard to the experiences it offers: culinary offerings, cultural offerings.” He added, “We should have a miniature carnival that visitors can sample any time they’re here.”
Tapping into the growth of experiential travel, Fedee declared that “cultural assets must become tourism assets. We will show your visitors that Saint Lucia is more than a beach. It’s got soul, it’s got topography… it’s got so many different components to offer your people. It really is the best place in the Caribbean for those unforgettable and important moments in their lives.”