Press Release:– I strongly condemn the information circulating via voice note maliciously alleging that there is an outbreak of Covid-19 at the Sandals resort.
This statement is patently false, and was undoubtedly made in an attempt to advance a divisive partisan political agenda.
It is important, therefore, to note the dangerous implications of such reckless engagement. Ever since the start of this pandemic, St Lucia’s travel and tourism sector, the industry which constitutes the backbone of our economy, has felt the full brunt of the widespread shutdowns caused by this crisis.
For my constituency, the ramifications have been especially brutal.
It is important to note that Soufriere, with its magnificent scenery and numerous touristic sites, represents the greatest source of attraction to tourists on the island.
Thus, the majority of the people of Soufriere are employed within the tourism
sector or rely on the tourism product to sustain their livelihoods.
In essence, taxi drivers, farmers who sell their agricultural produce to the hotels, tour operators and tour guides, hotel staff and many others who depend on the tourism sector to derive an income for themselves and to take care of their families have been directly
affected by this crisis.
My government, in an effort to manage this crisis, sought to implement various
measures that successfully aided in keeping the number of COVID-19 infections to
a bare minimum.
Thankfully, such actions bore fruit as is evidenced by The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) reduced COVID-19 rating of St Lucia to the lowest, Level 1, as one of only eight countries globally.
Additionally, an August 21 highlight by AOL captioned, “How much it costs to live in 15 COVID-free countries” rated Saint Lucia as the #2 country in the world that could provide one with a “gorgeous and safe place” to wait out the pandemic.
As a result, many visitors have felt reassured in visiting our shores which has led to an increase in visitor arrivals.
This in turn has enabled several hotels to enjoy occupancy levels as high as 90% (in the case of a well-known hotel in Soufriere), which has allowed them to reemploy many staff who had been furloughed.
Therefore, this baseless, reckless and malignant claim can only serve to dissuade potential visitors from making St. Lucia their destination.
What this translates into is many individuals who are desperately awaiting the increase in numbers from the tourism industry to maintain their livelihoods, their economic hardship will be senselessly prolonged.
It is in this spirit that I call on the parties responsible to please refrain from engaging in those dastardly acts.
I urge them to consider the persons whose lives that are being placed in further peril by
their quest to advance a destructive political agenda.
I wish to implore them to participate in the dissemination of factual and reliable
information, which will assist this nation in successfully navigating this turbulence.