CASTRIES, St. Lucia – The St. Lucia Hospitality & Tourism Association (SLHTA) says it intends to remain robust and buoyant this year having recorded several notable achievements over the past year including supporting policy that led to the launch of the Community Tourism Agency (CTA), and collaborating with Citizens for Peace and Prosperity and other key stakeholders on matters relating to crime and security.
“The SLHTA is very pleased with the level of engagement with the Ministry of Tourism and the St. Lucia Tourism Authority on a wide range of crucial discussions on issues directly affecting our tourism industry. Together we worked assiduously on the draft Tourism Development Bill and matters relating to the sector’s reopening.
“Additionally, there was the introduction of Kabawe Krawl, deliberations on the Collection de Pépites and the launch of the Inaugural St. Lucia Tourism Awards, The Gimies,” said SLHTA chief executive officer, Noorani Azeez, noting that these initiatives are a testament to what can be achieved when there is greater collaboration.
“Over the past year, the SLHTA also continued its push for the human resource development of its members, and created opportunities for at-risk and unemployed youth by introducing them to careers and entrepreneurial opportunities in the tourism industry.
“November 2022 was a historic month for the SLHTA: for the first time in its history, the association received a government grant to expand its On-The-Job Training program. Through the grant, 100 young St. Lucians will receive invaluable training at properties around the island!”
Azeez said the SLHTA was appreciative of all stakeholders with whom it had been collaborating over the past year “as we pushed through the post-COVID-19) pandemic recovery.
“We’re very pleased to have worked with communities and community-based organizations to unlock the benefits of tourism for our people in a philanthropic and developmental way,” Azeez said, with the SLTHA noting that last month, through its Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), the SLTHA disbursed grants and donations totaling over EC$250,000 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) to various organizations here.
The funds are being used to finance initiatives aimed at creating opportunities for young people and assisting the less fortunate in society with EC$90,000 worth of food vouchers.
Azeez said that the SLHTA is also aiming to increase its membership support services, including support for small businesses seeking entrance into the important tourism industry from the blue and orange economic sectors.
“We also anticipate an increase in membership in the new year as we re-energize our advocacy on better waste management practices on land and coastal areas, violent crimes reduction, human capital development, tourism product development and stronger linkages with St. Lucian manufacturers.
“We’ll also be looking at packaging some of our best practices and showcasing them regionally, so that other destinations can learn from our operational model of engagement, inclusivity, and collaboration.”
SLTHA president, Paul Collymore, is optimistic about the plans for 2023, adding that the hoteliers will seek further collaboration with other stakeholders to ensure success.
“What we’ve noticed over the years is that, especially when we’re faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges, our spirit of collaboration is indomitable. Therefore, in order to remain consistently successful, we need to keep those bonds of collaboration strong, as we are only stronger together.”
Collymore noted that the performance of the tourism sector in 2022 exceeded expectations and credits the hard work and dedication of those involved in the sector for this performance, adding that such efforts deserve recognition.
“We’re very pleased that we have overshot our projections by exceptional numbers. While most of this growth thus far has been led by stay-over arrivals, we are nonetheless happy that this sector has performed admirably and look forward to keenly anticipated increases in cruise and yachting arrivals. “Therefore, we thank all stakeholders whose efforts have led to these remarkable achievements and encourage them to continue this trend. In the New Year, we hope to celebrate these achievements through our national tourism awards ceremony,” Collymore added.