The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) has welcomed plans for the redevelopment of Hewanorra International Airport.
Construction of the new airport is slated to begin early in 2019 with the goal of having the facility fully operational by the end of 2020, the SLTA revealed in a news release.
“The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority is excited about this development as it will provide an added incentive for airlines to open up new routes to the destination,” the release said.
The airport redevelopment will include the construction of a new terminal building equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, restaurants, shops and executive lounges, and the conversion of the old terminal to accommodate fixed-based operators (FBOs).
On Tuesday, December 11, 2018, the Parliament of Saint Lucia voted to borrow US$100 million for the project.
Saint Lucia’s Tourism Minister, Dominic Fedee says that the country has exhausted the current capacity of the Hewanorra International Airport.
“The redevelopment project is part of our government’s broader plan to expand the island’s room stock by 50 percent in the next eight years,” he observed.
Currently, Saint Lucia has a room stock of just over 5,000 rooms spread across large and small hotels, villas, guest houses and apartments.
Acting CEO of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, Tiffany Howard, while welcoming the project, disclosed that the Authority continues to negotiate for more airlift into the island.
“Having a new, modern airport to leverage with airline partners is a huge asset,” Howard stated.
According to the SLTA, at present Saint Lucia welcomes close to 400,000 stayover visitors every year.
The largest number of visitors comes from the US market (45%), followed by the Caribbean (20%), the UK (18.5%) and Canada (10.5%).
Tourism accounts for 65 per cent of the island’s economic activity.
Last year the government instituted a US $35 airport development charge (ADC) on each arrival to finance the US $100 million loan from the Taiwanese government.
The Taiwanese are also providing much needed technical support on the project.