Hoteliers concerned about competitiveness

Saint Lucian hoteliers have expressed concern about this country’s tourism competitiveness, in the face of ‘rumours’ and ‘speculation’ of new taxes and charges to be levied on guests coming to the destination.

The Chief Executive Officer of the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA), Noorani Azeez, has said that the organization has ‘wrestled’with government over the years regarding the impact of  taxes on the cost of visiting Saint Lucia.

Azeez disclosed that late last week the hoteliers and representatives of  private sector groups had a meeting with Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet.

“We were able to get a very sound exchange going on what we perceive to be some of the critical issues affecting the industry at this time,” the SLHTA boss said.

Azeez asserted that there were two things that cannot be overlooked.

He mentioned  the state of the national debt which is a source of concern to everyone, especially investors who have pumped millions into the economy over the years.

The SLHTA CEO also spoke of the need to chart a way forward.

“How do we ensure that Saint Lucia remains or moves towards becoming  a more viable option for guests to visit?” He stated.

Azeez observed that  when what is happening regionally is considered, there is a lot of work to be done as Saint Lucia is certainly not the most competitive country compared to other destinations.

He said some hard questions have to be asked including what Saint Lucia is doing wrong and what are areas for improvement.

The SLHTA official said the discussion on the reintroduction of the Airport Development Charge and the revising of certain taxes must take place against the backdrop of what is  most important for this country as a whole.

Azeez stressed that the tourism industry here is a very price sensitive one.

He explained that whatever compromises are reached in the way forward, it must be ensured that the industry remains viable and more competitive with rising productivity levels.