CASTRIES, St Lucia -- On Thursday, senior officials of the Saint Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB) and main organizer of the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC), World Cruising Club (WCC), affixed their signatures to a new five-year contractual arrangement that will foster the further growth and development of the world-renowned iconic sailing event.
Fresh on the heels of a very successful 28th anniversary that saw a new record set for the fastest crossing time from Gran Canaria to Saint Lucia, by the eight-member crew of Caro in 2013, the sailing event has been ending on Saint Lucia for the past 23 years.
Commenting on the contract signing, tourism minister Lorne Theophilus said, “This 2014 – 2018 agreement with WCC will afford Saint Lucia more opportunities to display its legendary warmth, acclaimed hospitality, diverse accommodations and cultural attractions, to the thousands of mariners and their families expected to set foot on our shores throughout the life of this agreement.”
Last year, Saint Lucia served as the finishing leg for the inaugural ARC Plus; a spinoff event designed to accommodate the large number of entries into the traditional ARC. ARC Plus saw over 40 additional yachts setting sail from Las Palmas with a stopover in Cape Verde, before ending on Saint Lucia, two weeks before the ARC fleet arrived.
Expressing delight in the longstanding partnership between Saint Lucia and the ARC, managing director of World Cruising, Andrew Bishop said the ARC had become synonymous with Saint Lucia and had added its own intrinsic value to the brand recognition of the island for over two decades.
“This partnership has been so perfected that it truly is mutually beneficial. As we at World Cruising seek to grow the event and further seek to immerse the ARC into Saint Lucian life, it’s heartening to know that as a finishing point for the race, Saint Lucia as a destination partner is committed to that journey,” said Bishop.
Tourism officials say the ARC complements the overall tourism product, enabling Saint Lucia to offer a diversified calendar of events to a number of external niche markets.
Over the years that the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers has been hosted on Saint Lucia, the island has welcomed over 5,000 yachts to its shores with over 25,000 visitors during that same time period. Economically, the ARC contributes an average of US$1.5 million per year in terms of direct expenditure into the Saint Lucian economy.