Prime Minister Allen Chastanet has touted the resilience of tourism in the face of criticism that the COVID-19 crisis has exposed the disadvantage of Saint Lucia’s dependence on the industry.
Just this week Green Party leader Andre De Caires declared that Saint Lucia’s tourism basket into which the country had put all its eggs had fallen and the eggs were broken.
In making a case for the development of agriculture with cannabis as a catalyst, De Caires, who is also Chairman of the Cannabis Movement, told St Lucia Times that tourism was ‘on pause’ for the foreseeable future due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.
But Prime Minister Chastanet on Thursday told Newsspin on Real FM that after 9/11 the fastest industry globally to have responded and bounced back was tourism.
“If we look at the financial recession, despite the drop in the market the tourism industry came back even quicker than other industries,” the former Tourism Minister told Newsspin Host, Timothy Poleon.
He declared that even with climate change, the resilience of tourism has been evident.
Chastanet made it clear that tourism and agriculture do not conflict with each other.
“You can actually have a strategy of doing both,” the PM explained.
However he lamented that in the case of Saint Lucia, some of what is being produced in agriculture is limited by the local consumption.
“For sure tourism helps substantially in increasing that consumption,” Chastanet observed.
He made the point that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected not only tourism.
“The whole world is shut down,” Chastanet asserted.
“It’s not about tourism – manufacturing, the entire world economy has been shut down. So it’s not about whether tourism is resilient or fickle, every single industry, call centres, international financial services, markets for manufacturers – everything has been affected, the Saint Lucia Prime Minister observed.