The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) has a new chief in town, chief executive officer that is. Beverly Nicholson-Doty has joined SLTA as of July 1 as the organization’s leader. She joins SLTA after serving as the Commissioner of Tourism at the USVI Department of Tourism for 12 years. Recommend reached out to Nicholson-Doty to not only congratulate her on her new role, but to see what she has up her sleeves when it comes to changes and improvement for the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority. One of the first items she plans to tackle is promoting winter travel to the destination, and in turn increasing visitor numbers in the long run. But, she can’t do that without the help of advisors, who she says are “critically important.”
We’ll let you get to know Nicholson-Doty a little better through this Q&A, where she gives you the 4-1-1 on new and upcoming developments for the destination, as well as how you can become an expert on selling Saint Lucia.
Michelle Marie Arean (MMA): What made you decide to join Saint Lucia Tourism and take the helm as CEO?
Beverly Nicholson-Doty (BND): After serving as Commissioner of Tourism in the U.S. Virgin Islands Department of Tourism for almost 12 years, I launched Pearls Marketing LLC, a boutique firm dedicated to delivering marketing and communications for clients in the USVI, the Caribbean and beyond. Having served as Chairman of the Caribbean Tourism Organization during my tenure as Commissioner, I thought it would be a great opportunity to help shape the tourism product, working with, and learning from, an excellent team of professionals on tourism issues in a sister Caribbean island, especially one with a close connection with the U.S. Virgin Islands.
MMA: What do you see yourself bringing to the table as Saint Lucia’s new CEO from your past tenure at USVI?
BND: It is an exciting time to join the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority team. The culture of the island is inspiring and there is a host of promising tourism development activity. After 30 years working in the tourism industry in both the public and private sectors, I’ve seen the positive results from an organization that is driven by a solid strategic plan and has strong relationships with key stakeholders. In my previous role, I helped spearhead public-private sector initiatives, developed impactful cooperative marketing initiatives, and strengthened relationships with industry stakeholders. I am looking forward to bringing this experience to the SLTA as I hit the ground running!
MMA: What changes can we expect to see under your new role for Saint Lucia Tourism?
BND: The goal is to grow visitor arrivals and increase visitor spending. Developing a strategic marketing plan, which includes our tourism partners to achieve this objective is the first order of business. A key component of my tenure will be to ensure there is a solid sustainable development roadmap for the future.
MMA: What’s your first action plan?
BND: While developing and getting solid support from stakeholders for the plan, we are currently working on winter promotions and programming so Saint Lucia can get ahead of the important winter travel season and build on our year-over-year increases in visitor arrivals. And, we are taking action to promote two new tourism developments as well. First, we have a new nonstop flight from Chicago to UVF starting in December, which is an excellent option for midwest travelers. And second, the much-anticipated Pearl of the Caribbean horse racing track and entertainment complex is expected to open in December, opening up an array of options for both visitors and residents.
MMA: What are your plans to increase tourism to Saint Lucia?
BND: The new airport opening in 2020 paves the way for increased airlift. Overseeing the development of new hotels and the debut of Village Tourism are critical projects on my desk. Leveraging the creativity of the people of Saint Lucia opens up so many ways to inspire visitors to come to our shores, with our food, our natural beauty, as well as new and exciting attractions.
MMA: Where do you see Saint Lucia’s tourism in five years?
BND: As a shining example of sustainability in the Caribbean, and a top consideration for travelers from throughout the world planning a warm weather vacation.
MMA: What role do you see agents playing in Saint Lucia’s tourism under your leadership?
BND: Travel agents are our valued partners. Improving and building new platforms for agents to learn about Saint Lucia and experience Saint Lucia first- hand is an investment we will continue to support. This will range from educational programs and familiarization visits to in-market events.
MMA: How do you view travel advisors when it comes to travel to Saint Lucia?
BND: Critically important, especially with the abundance of upscale offerings. We plan to develop programs through which we can share our stories with them and their clients.
MMA: What advice/tips do you have for agents who would like to work better with you and the tourism board?
BND: Never cease to ask questions—whether in person, via phone or electronically. We plan to improve our communications avenues with agents. Of course, the comprehensive education and accreditation program that we created with Recommend is a must-do. By registering to become a Saint Lucia Expert via the SLEX program, travel agents can learn through educational modules; specialize in niches like romance and diving; earn rewards and grow their business. My overall advice to travel agents is to take advantage of every resource that we offer and contact us any time! The relationships we have with travel agents are successful because we truly value their feedback and partnership—we are always eager to hear about how we can help them sell Saint Lucia.
MMA: If there’s anything we left out, but that you would like to add regarding your new position as CEO, please feel free to share.
BND: A journey begins with a single step. We look forward to taking several steps to promote this incredible destination in the Caribbean. And, I want to ensure we do that while enhancing the lives of the people of the country.