Former Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee has taken issue with suggestions that Saint Lucia is continuing to break tourism records.
He described the industry’s performance as lacklustre and lukewarm.
“What we are seeing is a lack of planning, a lack of proactiveness. We have made more trips to Nigeria and to Dubai where we have no planes coming from rather than taking care of our traditional markets like the US and the UK to make sure that these markets are firing on all cylinders,” Fedee told a news conference on Thursday.
And he warned against highlighting one aspect of tourism, rather than looking holistically at the industry.
“I debunk statements made by the Ministry of Tourism suggesting that the industry is breaking records – we’re not. We have a long way to go,” the former Anse La Raye-Canaries MP declared.
By way of example, he quoted Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) figures indicating that in 2019 before COVID-19, stayover arrivals at this time were 262 381 while this year the figure up to July was 209 929.
The former Minister declared that this represented over 50 000 less than where the country was in 2019.
In addition, he observed that the cruise sector at this time in 2019 based on the SLTA’s latest report, accounted for 484 631.
” Now we are at 164, 044 which means that we are over 300,000 behind where we were if we had to look at our winter season for the cruise industry. This would mean we are presiding over the worst summer in the cruise season that we have seen in the last 25 years,” he asserted.
Fedee also quoted figures for the yachting sector.
He said it was shocking that a Tourism Minister would be happy with those numbers.
However, Fedee acknowledged that in the defence of the Minister of Tourism and those in charge of tourism, Saint Lucia was recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic.
But he warned that people must be careful how they make pronouncements as the recovery continues.
Headline photo: Dominic Fedee (Stock image)