Hoteliers cautious about upbeat tourism outlook

Hoteliers in Saint Lucia are cautious in the face of expectations that Caribbean hotels are expecting a good 2016.

The expectations are based on the inaugural Industry Performance and Outlook Study of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA).

The Executive Vice President of the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA), Noorani Azeez, explained that there is a lot of optimism in the region regarding arrivals.

Azeez said he believes this is triggered by attendance at a number of trade shows and interest from international tour operators.

But while welcoming the upbeat outlook, he cautioned that there are other parts of the globe that are making the same upbeat predictions in order to enhance investor confidence.

The SLHTA Executive Vice President noted that even though the region is poised to enjoy the gains from increasing arrivals, Saint Lucia has to be mindful of its position in the wider picture.

Azeez said that with respect to regional travel, it is very clear that a few destinations are doing very well.

“If you average us generally we will be placing behind the regional figures, that’s a fact,” he explained, adding that there was need to have ongoing discussion on marketing strategy and product enhancement.

He pointed out that increased arrivals to the region do not translate into increases for Saint Lucia.

“I would urge the players to take it with a grain of salt and become far more competitive and increase our competitive advantage,” the SLHTA official said of the upbeat tourism projections.

He said:

“For us we have to look at low hanging fruit to create the least stress our finances.”

Azeez also observed that regionally, there is concern about the marketing strategy for the Caribbean in terms of collaboration to impress on source markets that the Islands are a region of interest.

“We keep saying tourism is the key driver of the economy but regionally I think there is a fair amount of lip service paid to it,” he said.