Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire has highlighted the need to continue transforming the important Saint Lucia tourism industry so that the people benefit more, asserting that while tourism figures are important, benefits to Saint Lucians are more so.
Hilaire recalled that when he became Tourism Minister, he had explained that he did not want to attend meetings and speak about numbers and how good those numbers were.
“The numbers in truth represent something but the more important thing is how we are transforming the industry to bring greater benefit to the people of Saint Lucia,” the Castries South MP said on Thursday as the Island’s Tourism Advisory Committee met.
“That fundamentally is the ultimate measurement of the success of the tourism industry,” Hilaire declared.
He disclosed that although encouraged by others to go to the media and talk about ‘the numbers’ he did not feel motivated to comply if he could not also speak about how benefits are increasing.
“I really want to be able to speak about the transformational things,” he told the Tourism Advisory Committee meeting.
In this regard, the Minister said he was happy to speak about the Community Tourism Act and what it would mean for tourism.
He said he would also be happy to get a reaction to the Tourism Development Act, which he described as a monumental piece of legislation that would change how Saint Lucia manages the tourism industry.
“In many ways, that Act contains a framework that seeks to empower as many sectors as possible, as many persons as possible to benefit from the tourism industry,” the Minister stated.
In addition, Hilaire disclosed that he was happy with the tourism numbers.
“Things are blossoming and booming and it’s so tremendous,” he declared.
Nevertheless, Hilaire told his audience that he believes behind numbers, there’s a reality.
“We might be very happy with what we are seeing in terms of the numbers, but I always want to remind you for us to keep at the back of our minds how are we transforming this industry to make it more resilient, to make it more equitable, to make sure that the benefits actually accrue across the various sectors and is not coalescing around one particular sector,” the Tourism Minister observed.
Hilaire explained that those deeper, structural issues have greater importance as far as he was concerned.
Headline photo: Dr. Ernest Hilaire (Stock image)