Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, has declared that agriculture, by itself, cannot sustain Saint Lucia’s development.
Chastanet asserted that agriculture cannot generate enough jobs and income.
Nevertheless, he said that the sector is “incredibly important” to this country in terms of security and incremental revenue.
Chastanet explained that land that cannot be used for anything else and is put into agriculture helps to diversify the income base.
Chastanet disclosed that his administration will put a heavy focus on agriculture and tourism.
“Agriculture may not move the GDP numbers, but it provides incremental revenue to the households of the people – particularly in the rural areas,” he stated.
In regard to tourism, Chastanet said that the sector becomes a platform to support diversification.
“Through tourism, you can then grow the agriculture sector and even from an agro-processing perspective, introduce products that tourists would not have known,” he observed.
“Do you think that a tourist not coming to Saint Lucia can go into a grocery store in England and seeing a bottle of Chairman’s Reserve is going to buy that over a bottle that is heavily marketed? But the fact that he would have come to Saint Lucia and would have had Chairman’s Reserve here and has fond memories of it, creates that demand and then he will introduce that brand to other people,” Chastanet said.
Chastanet observed that tourism has survived several challenges.
He said these included zika, the financial crisis, the Gulf war, 9/11 and the largest recession.
Chastanet noted that the fastest growing sector in the US and the UK coming out of the financial recession was tourism.
“Tourism is no longer a luxury – people need to go on vacation and as the world becomes smaller, people want to go on vacation,” the former Tourism Minister noted.
Chastanet said he sees good prospects for tourism.
“The fact that you are having these problems in the Middle East now I think augurs extremely well for the Caribbean, but what we need to do is a better job of taking advantage of that,” he stated.
“How can we be so dependent on tourism and not have the best hospitality school in the world for tourism in the Caribbean?” The Saint Lucia Prime Minister asked.
He explained that the region needs to start taking itself more seriously.