Former Saint Lucia Prime has brushed aside calls to diversify away from the Island’s vital tourism industry, asserting that the sector is the largest foreign exchange earner, employer, and linkages back to the economy.
“The idea of people talking about we need to diversify from tourism, no, we have not even begun to explore or take advantage of the opportunities of tourism. But by growing tourism you create diversification,” the former Tourism Minister asserted.
“Your agriculture sector is going to be much stronger, your manufacturing sector is going to be stronger, your offshore financial sector, creative industry are all going to be stronger by having more hotel rooms,” the opposition leader noted.
He questioned whether Saint Lucia had reached capacity, pointing out that Aruba, with seventy square miles, has fifteen thousand rooms.
Chastanet told reporters that Saint Lucia, with 238 square miles, has five thousand.
Therefore, the United Workers Party (UWP) leader declared that Saint Lucia is at the infancy of what tourism has to provide.
And he observed that given what is happening worldwide today, governments must find the silver lining in every problem.
Chastanet noted that lamenting does not solve problems.
According to the Micoud South MP, tourism is the sector creating economic opportunities for this country.
By way of example, he pointed to Saint Vincent and Dominica.
“The Dominicans recently got a flight to Miami – three flights a week and they’re celebrating,” Chastanet stated.
However, he observed that Saint Lucia sometimes has two flights in a day to Miami with daily flights to Atlanta.
In addition, Chastanet said this country has flights to Charlotte, Philadelphia, New York, Paris, Montreal, and other destinations.
“Potentially down the road we can generate flights into Latin America. What industry is creating that opportunity for us? When you say to yourself only five thousand rooms and that’s what it is generating, far less if you had fifteen thousand rooms. Not only would you have more flights, but cheaper flights,” Chastanet expressed.
“Everyone benefits,” the former Prime Minister declared.
Headline stock image: Tourists shopping at Vendors Arcade in Castries before COVID-19 pandemic