‘St. Lucia is going head to head with Barbados and I can see the island getting ahead’
These comments were made by Glen Beache, the Minister of Tourism for St. Vincent and the Grenadines in St. Lucia recently, whilst addressing the media with his St. Lucia counterpart, Senator Allen Chastenet.
Under a heading of ‘St. Vincent and St. Lucia team up for tourism promotion’ carried in the Wednesday 5th December 2007, edition of the Star newspaper, Minister Beache, went on to lament the continuing fall in intra Caribbean travel, citing rising airfares as a large contributor to the decline in regional travelers.
‘I agreed that airfares needed to go up’ he said. The extent to which they’ve gone up, I don’t agree with’.
Recently released long stay arrivals from the Barbados Statistical Service, show for the first ten months of 2007 a dramatic decline of 19 per cent visiting Barbados in terms of the regional islands combined.
The exception was Trinidad and Tobago which showed a drop of 12.2 per cent.
Tourism policymakers may have not as yet estimated the substantial negative economic effective this has had on the accommodation and ancillary sectors.
While most Caribbean destinations enjoy a fairly predictable busy winter season, the reality is that a bumper four month peak season does not pay the bills of operating 12 months a year.
Especially affected is the small hotel sector, which largely benefits from Caribbean people traveling in the eight long summer months.
But just about every other component element that makes up the overall tourism product suffers as well. Taxi drivers, car rental agencies, restaurants activities and attractions, shopping experiences and so on!
While, LIAT may be in a better financial state and once again enjoying a virtual monopoly, I really wonder if those political leaders guiding our destiny have added up the true overall cost to their nation’s economies in terms of lost tourism earnings.
5th December 2007