Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire has said that tourism must benefit all and cannot be just about big hotels.
The Castries South MP spoke during this week’s official Soufriere-Fond St Jacques Vendors’ Association launch.
“Tourism must bring benefits for all,” he declared to applause from the audience.
He noted that big hotels have huge operations.
“We have to applaud that and we need that,” the Minister explained.
In this regard, he observed that the government must support the hotels by providing incentives and concessions for their operations.
However, Hilaire said it could not be the hotels alone.
The Minister disclosed that the laws in Saint Lucia now only accommodations get incentives and concessions.
But he said that must change.
“You must be able to get incentives and concessions too,” Hilaire told the Soufriere-Fond St Jacques Vendors’ Association launch to more applause.
“Everybody involved in the tourism industry must be able to get concessions and incentives and we are very clear because we want more Saint Lucians involved in tourism. We want more Saint Lucians owning the tourism industry,” he stated.
“Why should a tourism industry be owned by a small group or by foreigners? We want more Saint Lucians, which is why we established the Community Tourism Programme,” the Castries South MP noted.
He stated that the government was making millions available to people who wanted loans and grants to start their own tourism products.
Hilaire said when the tourism dollar comes to Saint Lucia, the government wants most of it to stay in the country.
“If you own the sites, the attractions. If you, the vendors, can make them spend more, more of that dollar stays in Saint Lucia, ” the Tourism Minister advised.