AS promised, we continue where we left off in our Tuesday 27th edition with Saint Lucia’s Minister of Tourism Dominica Fedee during his chit-chat with members of the media on “Free Willy” during the 13th edition of the ARC Flotilla as it made to the IGY Rodney Bay Marina.
In terms of events for the 1,300-plus visitors and locals alike, the Tourism Minister said, “We have a long slate of events in the IGY Rodney Bay Marina, in the Villages, Gros Islet and Anse La Raye is going to be a big hit. These are some of the additions and we have to make sure the Saint Lucian public are very much involved. This is an inclusive event and this is the biggest sailing Regatta in the Caribbean and we are proud of that”.
Q: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are currently hosting an event similar to Saint Lucia, your thoughts, any threat?
Minister Fedee: No Threats!! We have to keep focusing. Tourism is an increasingly competitive business and what we got to do is to make sure we do the things well — all of us, whether we are in the media, working in a hotel or marina, we got to make sure we have this patriotism and we give this national importance to our tourism product.”
Fedee believes Saint Lucia is “a tremendous destination.”
The Minister said, he has an announcement to make this coming Sunday (tomorrow, 1st December) which will intrigue the Saint Lucia public. He said it will show the travel community what the world thinks about Saint Lucia.
Efforts in having the Minister to loose the cat out of the bag ahead of Sunday’s pronouncement remain fruitless, but he maintains it was only a teaser.
Q: The ARC participants are doing Thursday night party in Anse la Raye, at what point will that courtesy will be extended to town of Soufriere?
Minister Fedee: “Already, they are doing Anse la Raye, Marigot Bay is pretty part of the Mix, because during the dates of the ARC we see businesses are stimulating, intense activity in the Marinas, Resturants and Docking facilities, the spin offs are tremendous as we continue to refine our yachting product.
“I am happy to report that the Soufriere boat boys have actually organized themselves into an association and this is with a view of having more structured, better established to better define the product of the ARC.
“I am very pleased with the work they have done; working with the Ministry of Tourism to make sure we address some of the troubling issues and challenges that we face; like demarcation, customer services, sales and safety and security.”
Q: Any reason why you did not attend the official opening or send off in Las Palmas for the 178 plus yachts and over 1,300 crew members?
Minister Fedee: “Busy travel schedule, you cannot be everywhere. I would love to. I did it once before, I believe the High Commissioner in London, Guy Meyers, would do a wonderful job representing Saint Lucia; he is absolute statesman and diplomat.
“There is a lot going on in other markets, in other side of the tourism sector. We have a new flight that’s coming in with American Airlines on Wednesday 19th December; we are busy working on the public relations for initiatives such as those. We just had the Air Canada public relations farm with 150 travel agents; this is one of our biggest market”.
Q: What about the Yachting sector and its contribution to the Tourism Industry in Saint Lucia?
Minister Fedee: “It continues to be an important page to Saint Lucia, its direct business. The yachting arrivals, while it might be one of the smallest but they stay for a longer period of time. Yachtsmen by nature, they are venturous and they tend to venture into places where people will not go. You will never find them staying in a tourist area, but they naturally head for communities that don’t get opportunities to participate in the traditional form of the business to benefit more so, as in land-based and cruise tourism. It’s quite an important market and we continue to grow it. We are working very feverishly to see how best we can structure and re-invent it. It is a competitive business. People have very exciting destinations. They have to go all the time. It makes our job in Saint Lucia so much more difficult.
Q. Do you remember some years aback there was some issue in calculating the amount of yachts coming into Saint Lucia?
Fedee: “That’s an ongoing process, you will always have challenges when you are measuring the economy, or the general tourism arrival in numbers, or whether you are measuring the numbers as it pertains to the yachting sector. I think we have come a long way in fully capturing all of our bays. Whether it is Laborie, Soufriere, IGY Rodney Bay and Marigot, there has been a mark improvement”.
Q: Any idea how much money Saint Lucia generated from the ARC in 2017?
Minister Fedee: “I don’t have those numbers, so I couldn’t tell you…”