The Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA) Executive Vice President, Noorani Azeez, has expressed concern about the United Kingdom vote to leave the European Union.
Azeez told the Times that the consequent slide in the pound that accompanied the ‘Brexit’ vote concerns the vital tourism industry here.
He asserted that if this dilutes the spending power of British citizens, Saint Lucia, which is already an expensive destination, might be placed at a further disadvantage.
Azeez explained that the destination will find itself out of the reach of a greater number of British visitors.
The UK is Saint Lucia’s third biggest source market for tourists.
The SLHTA official observed that Saint Lucia has already seen an erosion of arrivals over the years.
He asserted that this could be due to increased competition for British visitors.
Azeez told the Times that the fall in the spending power of the British means that Saint Lucia will continue to be an expensive destination.
He observed that would not be very encouraging for this country’s tourism.
“I am concerned about the short term impact of the uncertainties in the fall in stock market numbers and that impact has got to be managed very carefully,” the SLHTA Executive Vice President told the Times.
He stated that the last thing anyone wants is a snowball effect that may cause England to slide into a recession.
Azeez felt this would only add to Saint Lucia’s woes.
“Some of my colleagues who are more versed in economics and policy crafting with whom I dialogued this morning, seem to think that the situation will stabilize going forward and I have no doubt that it will,” he disclosed.
However Azeez told the Times that one of his considerations was the bold statement which British citizens are making in the ‘Brexit’ vote.
He expressed the view that it may embolden other countries to rethink the value of membership in the European Union.
“If more countries start to exit, I am concerned about the impact of grant funding for small states like us, because we depend heavily on European Union development funding to finance a lot of our projects,” the SLHTA official observed.
He said against such a backdrop, Caribbean countries have to start seriously rethinking their spending habits and investment priorities.