During a press briefing this week, Hon. Ernest Hilaire, Minister of Tourism for Saint Lucia reported on the island’s rebound amidst the Covid pandemic.
Saint Lucia, he reported, is working towards a full recovery from the global pandemic. “We continue to strive towards a full recovery and coexist with Covid as we focus on tourism development, growth, and authentic experiences curated by local Saint Lucians.”
Saint Lucia, he said, had a record-breaking overnight arrivals in July and August—“our highest numbers ever.”
Safety for visitors and locals is still a priority for the island, and Hilaire says that the protocols are being adjusted as needed to ensure the highest level of precaution. This June, he notes, protocols were eased for fully vaccinated travelers, which make up about 70 percent of incoming travelers. He added “that nearly all of our hotels and signature attractions are Covid-certified and open to visitors. Many of our hotels report that more than 75 percent of their staff are vaccinated with others scheduled for vaccination drives in the coming weeks.”
However, said Hilaire, “We also know that when protocols change for our international markets, they could have a ripple effect on us as well. For example, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control regularly updates its travel ratings, and like many of our neighbors in the Caribbean and more than 80 countries in the world, we are currently listed at Level 4. We’ll continue working diligently in Saint Lucia to uphold the highest level of protocols, welcome travelers who have taken a PCR test within five days, as we mitigate the spread of Covid-19.”
Air & Sea
With 90 percent of Saint Lucia’s visitors coming from the U.S., Hilaire noted that this summer new nonstop flights were added from the U.S. This includes new service from Dallas and tripling direct service from the New York area. In addition, American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue and United Airlines all have nonstop flights from most major U.S. cities. Travelers currently have plenty of options for nonstop flights from the key markets such as New York, New Jersey, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Miami, Atlanta, Charlotte and Dallas.
When it comes to cruising, Hilaire said, “We are working diligently with the cruise lines to bring our cruise ship market back to the level they were in 2019.” Adding that the island’s Health Teams continue to update the protocols as regulations change in the cruise industry.
“Despite the pandemic, Saint Lucians continue to innovate and tourism developments continue, especially to provide authentic and home-grown experiences to our visitors,” said Hilaire. “More than ever, we are committed to engaging our local entrepreneurs in Saint Lucia, so they can deliver experiences that highlight our cultural and heritage, while also bringing the economic benefits of tourism back to our locals.”
New experiences include an new indigenous chocolate company, Cacoa Sainte Lucie, which is located in the west coast village of Canaries and opened its doors in July. Here, guests can take part in four chocolate experiences including Bean-to-Bar tours, chocolate-making workshops, and more. Also this summer, Project Chocolat debuted a new immersive chocolate experience from chocoletiere and cacao grower Hotel Chocolat, located in a rainforest that’s a declared UNESCO World Heritage site. Here, visitors can make their own chocolate, explore cacao cuisine and shop at the retail market.
The village of Anse la Raye is receiving a full makeover and will have a new village square, waterfront local seafood restaurants and bars, and an information booth, added Hilaire.
This August, Sandals St. Lucia Golf & Country Club at Cap Estate in Gros Islet reopened with a remastered 18-hole course.
Other developments on the island include the construction at Cabot Saint Lucia, located on Point Hardy, which will include a golf club and a resort—this 40-suite hotel is expected to open in 2022.
“Tourism will continue to inspire visitors with authentic culinary and dining; signature experiences in the rainforest and our beloved Pitons; and the truly one-of-a-kind offerings we have in Saint Lucia—especially as we enter this winter travel season,” said Hilaire. “Our niches like diving, weddings and honeymoons, and family travel continue to thrive as our hotel and attraction partners create distinct experiences that appeal to these special niches.
“As we look toward 2022, events will take on a different look and feel as we consider safety and Covid protocols,” added Hilaire. “We are actively meeting and we are discussing the feasibility of events such as Carnival, culinary events and music festivals. As we finalize the details, we’ll be making announcements regarding any in-person events confirmed, so that our important regional travelers and international guests can plan to join us.”
He added that, “As we continue to coexist with Covid, we in Saint Lucia look forward to welcoming visitors from the U.S., the UK, Canada and around the world. Our signature experiences await the couples, families, honeymooners and all who have made us the award-winning destination of choice in the Caribbean from our majestic Pitons to our soothing mud baths, our vibrant coral reefs to our lush rainforests.”
For more information, visit stlucia.org.
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