United Workers Party, UWP, candidate to contest the Anse La Raye/Canaries seat in the next elections, Dominic Fedee, has called on Tourism Minister, Lorne Theophilus, to plan for both opportunities and threats that would be the result of increasing normalization of relations between Cuba and the United States.
According to Fedee, who is the Regional Public Relations Manager for Sandals Resorts International – Eastern Caribbean, current trends in the relationship between Washington and Havana could lead to the lifting of the 50 year old US embargo on Cuba, resulting in a loosening of the current travel restrictions on the Spanish speaking Island.
The UWP Candidate noted that Regional experts project that destinations close to Cuba in the Northern Caribbean could see an initial fallout from their US arrivals, because of the novelty that Cuba brings.
Fedee asserted that, according to the experts, Southern Caribbean Cruise arrivals could see a reduction in those times of high oil prices and may be lured into rescheduling to short-haul rather than medium and long-haul trips.
But he said there are also opportunities for St. Lucia as Cuba’s hotel infrastructure may not be able to accommodate the heavy influx of US tourists arrivals in addition to its current markets.
Fedee pointed out that a Caribbean Hotel Association position paper earlier this year asserts that Cuba is the leading tourist destination in various source markets that it has access to.
“It attracts over one million tourists from Latin America, over one million from Canada and over one million from Europe,” he disclosed, adding that without access to the US market, Cuba attracted more tourists than any Caribbean destination with the exception of the Dominican republic which attracted over 4 million
“Wholesalers of vacation experiences may divert their attention to higher yielding American tourists which could then leave at least one million Canadians looking for a vacation experience in the Caribbean,” the Sandals PR Manager said.
Fedee declared that this presents a great opportunity for St. Lucia, but asserted that the Island must plan in order to capitalize on it.