The St. Lucia Tourism Ministry says it anticipates an almost 15 per cent increase in visitor arrivals for the month of March this year and is preparing for it.
A statement from Caribbean Tourism Organisation (CTO) said the country has, in three days, received 19,052 cruise travelers to the destination and anticipates an additional 125,434 cruise passengers before the month ends, bringing the estimated total to 144,486.
In March 2018, the island received 125,596 cruise passengers, which was a 27.3 per cent increase over the corresponding month in 2017. Overall the island experienced a 13.5 per cent increase in cruise arrivals in 2018.
Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee said that in an effort to maximize the benefits of tourism locally, special focus is placed on the development and management of the cruise sector.
“We are doing everything possible to ensure that Saint Lucians benefit more from these impressive numbers. A revenue committee has been established at the Tourism Council to yield greater economic penetration for our people.” Fedee said.
The tourism minister added that vendors and other tourism stakeholders are being trained to take advantage of the potential revenue streams the sector has to offer, which he says is in direct keeping with the Ministry’s current plans and policy trends toward sustainable cruise tourism strategies.
“Therefore, the tremendous growth we are experiencing is a great beginning and we are committed to making this count by training our vendors and other stakeholders to focus on revenue,” Fedee said.
Another part of the Tourism expansion plan is to move towards the implementation of community-based tourism strategies to give visitors more options to learn and enjoy the island.
The Department of Tourism has earmarked eight communities nationally for the development of the Village Tourism programme with the aim of promoting linkages between onshore businesses and other sectors of the economy.
The idea is to convert each of the communities into a tourism destination, highlighting its unique culture, cuisine, heritage and history, thereby creating an experience for visitors unlike any other destination.
To this end, the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) is projecting 6 to 7 percent growth this year, continuing an upward trend that began in September of 2018.