Castries vendors say they are bracing for the economic fallout from a ban placed on cruise ships berthing here, amid fears over the spread of COVID-19.
Celia Joseph, the former Secretary of the Vendors Association, told St Lucia Times that although the situation was not the best, vendors support the cruise ship ban to some extent recognising that it was implemented to protect their health and that of their families.
“What happen is that we are almost the first set of people the tourists contact when they get off the cruise ships,” Joseph explained.
She said the vendors are at risk in the same way as doctors, nurses and others.
According to Joseph, vendors are now relying on tourists from neighbouring Islands like Martinique.
But she lamented that the Martiniquans may not even decide to visit Saint Lucia because of the Coronavirus situation back home.
Joseph asserted that vendors are ‘almost accustomed’ to the tourist dearth because they experience a six month lull in the cruise season.
“When the season is over we depend on tourists from the hotel and tourists from the Caribbean so it’s not something new for us,” the former Secretary of the Vendors Association told St Lucia Times.
However she pointed out that the difference now is that there is no certainty about when the Coronavirus threat will dissipate.
“We are hoping for the best,” Joseph told St Lucia Times.
She disclosed that some vendors had closed shop.
Nevertheless, she explained that they can never tell when they will get a sale.
“This morning we had a few tourists coming in. Some of the taxi drivers from the hotel took them on tour and part of the tour is the market – the Vendors Arcade. So we had a little something in between,” Joseph stated.
“You never know when you will get something, so instead of not coming at all I decided to come and close earlier,” she revealed.