Declaring that the labour administration believes development should be foremost about the people, Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire has spoken of empowering Saint Lucians to get most of the benefits from the industry.
“If more Saint Lucians can own this tourism industry, you’re talking about over a billion dollars every year bring brought into the country in terms of value. How much of it stays in Saint Lucia? If you can just visualise more and more Saint Lucians owning this industry and benefitting from this industry, we will all be the better for it. It will become sustainable,” Hilaire stated.
But he explained that the model where most of the profits go overseas, will not be sustainable.
“Our people will start resisting it. Our people will start fighting against it,” the Castries South MP asserted.
According to the Minister, it is richer tourism when visitors can enjoy the authentic Saint Lucian life and personality.
” We are right now revising the concessions and incentives framework and we will be coming out in the next few months with a new incentives bill that will actually create more opportunities for Saint Lucians to own the tourism industry. We don’t think Saint Lucians should be simply workers -yes we need workers, yes they should be Saint Lucians, but we want more Saint Lucians ownership of the tourism industry,” Hilaire told reporters on the sidelines of a Cabinet meeting on Monday.
In invited comments, the Tourism Minister expressed that he and the government are always concerned about crime, whether against locals or visitors.
And Hilaire stated that there should be no differentiation regarding victims of crime based on whether they are locals or visitors.
“We should not get more concerned because it’s a visitor, but accept it as normal if it is a Saint Lucian that is a victim. Of course we have to be concerned across the board, ” he told reporters.
But Hilaire said the dynamics are different in managing local victims and visitors.
“It places a lot more stress on us because we have to really deal with a lot of damage control externally not just internally,” he observed regarding visitors who are crime victims.
The Minister revealed that Saint Lucia would see the launch of a national tourism public education campaign over the next few weeks.
The aim is to sensitise Saint Lucians about tourism, welcoming tourists and the approach to the sector.
Headline photo: File image Tourists shopping at Vendors Arcade in Castries before COVID-19 crisis