Saturday 20 July, 2019

Village tourism a part of 'gamechanger' plans for the industry

Plans for the introduction of village tourism have been lauded in the Saint Lucia Senate with members anticipating widespread benefits.

As the key economic pillar for future growth, considerable attention has been paid to the tourism strategy. Some twenty game changers have been developed to accelerate growth in both tourist arrivals and tourist receipts. The aim is to increase stay-over tourists from 386,000 arrivals in 2017 to 541,000 by 2022.

The Hon. Prime Minister, during his budget presentation, revealed that whether it is in adventure tourism, ecotourism, heritage tourism or wellness tourism, the country must evolve its product beyond the package-based offerings now reasonably well covered in its market. Part of the new approach is formal agreements with sharing economy providers like Airbnb.

Independent Senator, Mauricia Thomas-Francis said the move will empower Saint Lucians to elevate their standard of living.

“There are Saint Lucians who have actually empowered themselves by investing in their properties to offer a service to a niche market that was untapped for so long. This is village tourism at work. The benefits of village tourism are huge,” she said.

Village tourism will allow interested persons to become participants in the value chain of tourism and improve their social outcomes. This, Prime Minister Chastanet said, is an example of empowering Saint Lucians and has the potential to revolutionize wealth creation in previously marginalized segments of society.

Independent Senator Adrian Augier agreed.

“The non-traditional accommodation sector, also referred to as Airbnb, could be a driving wave of investment, construction, training, standards improvement, linkages and diversification for the average Saint Lucian interested in participation in the tourism sector—in particular, ownership in the tourism sector.”

The key economic targets of the tourism sector strategy are to increase GDP contributions to $1.9 billion by 2022, attract investments of $3.5 billion by 2022 and create over 4,000 jobs by 2022.

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