Tourist arrivals are increasing

Tourist arrivals are increasing

The tourism industry appears to be recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, with arrivals increasing sharply over the past few months according to St. Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) staff.

Authorities hope this trend will continue. In 2020, arrivals were noticeably low; the industry, like many others, took a significant hit when the coronavirus hit.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SLTA Lorine Charles-St. Jules hinted as much at last week’s St. Lucia Destination Experience in the Canary Islands, an event recognized by St. Lucia’s Collection de Pépites program, which includes villas, B&Bs, boutique hotels and inns with 35 rooms or less.

“As we move into the first quarter of our highlights today, this has breathed new life into the recovery phase. As you know (when) we started in January, we had Omicron, but in the first quarter we recorded the highest level of performance since 2021. In particular, in April we exceeded the optimistic forecast for visitor arrivals by 30% and welcomed 30,661 stayover arrivals, recording 12 percent more visitors than April 2019,” Charles-St. Jules said.

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May was another record month, she noted, adding that “as we continued into June 2022, we recorded 30,694 layover arrivals, just 10 percent less than June 2019. This demonstrated that we are closing the gap towards achieving normal state. And I should add (that) Saint Lucia was highlighted as one of the best performing destinations for 2022; the only country in the Eastern Caribbean listed in the top five by UNWTO (United Nations World Tourism Organization).”

It said the United States accounted for 73 percent of total arrivals, up 12 percent from June 2019. February, April and May were also up compared to June 2019. The United Kingdom was the largest market for the month of June, accounting for 15 the percentage of total arrivals.

“We are pleased to report (that) we almost achieved parity with June 2019 with only 127 fewer visitors than 2019. June was also the second highest month for the Caribbean. So how did we evolve? What did we do to achieve all these statistics? In May 2022, we recorded that over 90 percent of our visitors to St. Lucia were fully vaccinated, so this allowed for a very healthy exchange between visitors and the local population,” Charles-St. Jules noted.

Other factors came into play. The country also abandoned its COVID-19 protocols that allowed seamless entry at all ports of arrival and departure. Relationships with various media partners and others have also proved beneficial.

“We continue to respond to the ever-changing landscape for our visitor arrivals. The continued increase in stay over arrivals (is) also due to sustainable air transport, seamless port of entry protocols in St Lucia, valuable trade, media and meaningful collaborations between the private and public sector and agencies have also been aided,” Charles -St. Jules said.

The CEO also provided an update on the maritime sector. According to her, SLTA continues to promote St. Lucia as a destination of choice for the cruise and yachting sectors.

The latter, unlike the former, is not so successful Charles-St. Jules pointed out.

“Since resuming the cruise last year, we have welcomed over 22,580 visitors to our shores. However, the yacht sector is not as dynamic as the cruise sector, so we expect with the recent introduction of our marine policy, which we launched about six weeks ago, to see some improvement in that sector. Also (in) next fall we will be resuming the return of the Atlantic Cruiser Rally, which last year brought in five million dollars, so we expect some additional injection into the economy again over the next two seasons,” she said.

“All these statistics we welcomed. But how did we get there? what we did We continued our marketing initiatives in all our main markets. We returned to personal activities. We went to the US; we started in Dubai in February (and) continued to interact with our trading partner (s) and consumer partners. We also went to the UK, Europe and most recently the Caribbean where we did all the activations one by one. In particular, we reminded our partners that we have missed them and wanted to thank them for being with us over the past year, so this has certainly contributed to our growth,” Charles-St. Jules added.

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