Tourism Minister, Dominic Fedee has said that the last figures received from the Saint Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB) indicate that there is an overall decline of 11.7 percent.
Fedee told a news conference today that the statistics were very troublesome and worrisome to him as the new minister of tourism.
He asserted that the cruise arrivals paint an even more “frightening” picture.
According to the minister, the cruise numbers have not improved from their earlier signs of dwindling.
“The cruise arrivals are coming in at a decline of 16.2 percent when compared to last year,” Fedee explained.
He said that the numbers from stay over arrivals were also not so encouraging – a slight decline of 1.1 percent.
The minister said no figures had been received for the yachting sector.
He asserted that this pointed to the fact that after several years of being a yachting destination, there was no perfect, scientific and clinic method of receiving figures pertaining to that most important sector.
Fedee asserted that state of the tourism industry could be attributed to the fact that tourism industry development act of 1982, which governs the structure of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, has gone through little amendment and restructuring.
He made the comments while introducing the new board of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB), which he announced would be charged with the responsibility of transitioning the SLTB from being just a marketing and events arm, to a new Saint Lucia Tourism Authority.
The new Chairperson of the board is Agnes Francis, the first female to hold that position.
Francis was also the first ever female Director of Tourism.
Speaking of the transition from the SLTB to a Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, Fedee said:
“The new authority will couple the very important functions of marketing marketing and the function of product development so that there is a close relationshi,p so that the right hand will know what the left hand is doing at all times.”
Fedee said tourism has to be the driving force to help Saint Lucia recover from the economic crunch that the Island faces presently.
He stated that Saint Lucia’s GDP figures have not been impressive over the last five year and the fiscal situation was very dire.
“When I looked at the last estimates they showed that recurrent expenditure is over a hundred million dollars and the overall deficit was even more frightening,” Fedee disclosed.
He explained that he estimated that tourism has to grow by ten percent for the next seven to eight years if it is to be claimed that the sector is the driving force of the economy to help Saint Lucia out of the current crisis.
According to Fedee, although the times were tough, it was not a time to be daunted by the challenges but to summon a new spirit of working together.