CASTRIES, St Lucia -- On the heels of being adjudged the ‘Sexiest Caribbean destination,’ Saint Lucia remains steadfastly on course to record is most active year in recent times.
Tourism officials are subsequently basking in news of continuous increases in stay-over arrivals for the much sought after destination, with the latest November figures indicating a 6 percent increase over the same period last year. In the penultimate month of the year Saint Lucia recorded a total of 25,167 stay-over arrivals by air and ferry.
Arrivals from the US market were up 19 percent from 8,171 in 2012 to 9,732 in 2013. Year to date arrivals from the US are also up 12 percent from 104,927 visitors in 2012 to 116,982 in 2013.
The Caribbean market captured the third largest (14%) share of stay-over arrivals in November with a total of 3,533 visitors. This figure represents a 7% increase in arrivals from the same month last year. Year to date arrivals from the Caribbean are also up 7% from the previous year.
In expressing delight over the news, Tourism Minister Lorne Theophilus said the increases come amidst stiff competition and challenging times for the tourism industry throughout the Caribbean. According to Theophilus, who also holds the portfolios of Heritage and the Creative Industries, “Saint Lucia has been able to realized steady increases in arrivals overall and most notably an expansion in its main source market - the United States, even as the US economy still grapples with slow economic recovery.”
Year-to-date stay-over-arrivals for the period January–November 2013 recorded a 4% increase over the same period last year. Tourist arrivals increased from 278,170 in 2012 to 288,023 in 2013.
While acknowledging declines in the UK and Canadian markets, Director of Tourism Louis Lewis pointed to growth in airlift, strategic marketing efforts and targeted promotional activities in key source markets as the main factors driving the overall increase.
“This has allowed us to not only remain competitive,” said Louis, “but critically to come out on top as the preferred destination of choice for thousands of increasingly discerning travellers.”
Among the highlights of activities initiated by the Tourist Board for 2013 are a highly successful revamped, rebranded and reenergized Jazz and Arts Festival; the staging of the inaugural Wedding symposium; a highly acclaimed Saint Lucia Showcase – North America; rekindling interest in the small properties sector and a focus on key niche markets one example being the recently hosted Wedding symposium.
The SLTB is also touting a significant improvement in collaborative efforts involving key partners like the hotels association, tour operators, airlines and other tourism interests on island.