A draft bill for the Tourism Authority has been prepared and is being reviewed for submission to the Cabinet of Ministers and the House of Parliament.
Agnes Francis, Executive Chairperson of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB), said she projects that by April, the legislation will be in place to allow the new entity to move forward.
“We have a draft bill that we are finalizing with the Ministry of Tourism. It is expected to be presented to Cabinet next week, and taken through Parliament before the end of March, so that we have legislation in place by April. The intention is that as soon as the legislation is passed, the jobs can be advertised, and we’re hoping during the month of April to start advertising the vacancies and start the recruitment process.”
Tourism officials say the Tourism Authority will not function as the Saint Lucia Tourist Board does. Some of the differences include a digital marketing division; a reduction in the budget for the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival; and the establishment of a call centre to inform and facilitate sales and bookings.
Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Tourism, Information and Broadcasting, Hon. Dominic Fedee, said the Tourism Authority serves as a much-needed strategic move in the island’s economic template.
“In the last financial year of the SLTB, we had a situation where out of $34 million, we were spending $9 million on administration; $14 million on the Jazz Festival; and $3 million on airline support. That’s a total of $26 million. Now, for an organisation whose primary function is to market the destination, we were spending somewhere in the region of $8 million out of a budget of $34 million. So it really didn’t make any sense. It wasn’t practical and the return on our investment clearly shows. I am not surprised that we had a very lean year in 2016 because we were making all the wrong decisions.”
Minister Fedee said the Tourism Authority will be charged with marketing Saint Lucia as “a destination with a soul.”