New tourism authority to be up and running in July: officials

New tourism authority to be up and running in July: officials
Photo credit: SLASPA

Photo credit: SLASPA

Legislation to officially transform the Saint Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB) into a tourism authority will be tabled in parliament this month end and an establishment of the new body will come by July 2017, according to Chairperson of the SLBT Agnes Francis.

Just about a year ago, government announced that it would convert the SLTB into a new Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) as part of plans to revamp the sector. At the time, statistics had indicated an overall decline of 11.7 percent in tourism arrivals to Saint Lucia.

The authority will aim to bring together the key functions of marketing and product development, to promote Saint Lucia as a tourism destination.

Francis, who will be heading the SLTA, told a June 14 press conference that because of the delay in implementation, all overseas SLBT marketing offices had to be reopened in order to facilitate continued marketing campaigns. She informed that UK and Canadian marketing firms have already been hired. Saint Lucia will handle regional marketing.

“The approach to the overseas offices is to hire a marketing company. We have been able to source St. Lucian marketing companies in the UK and in Canada and because we are experimenting with the US we are keeping the relationship that we have…” she said.

She said an important objective of the new SLTA is to reduce administrative costs.

“The approach was to identify and hire a marketing firm that we don’t have the responsibility for paying NIS, hiring HR consultants [and] hiring legal experts,” she added.

Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee said that the new legislation will make allowances for a number of changes including the ability of the private sector to nominate who gets on the SLTA board.

“The private sector will have a larger share at the table. We will for the first time, allow the private sector to actually nominate board members. The previous legislation did give the minister all powers to appoint all board members and what that did is that it sort of politicised a very important function of the tourist industry which is to market the destination. So, often times you would find political cronies ending up on boards that had no previous experience in the industry and what we are trying to do is to…depoliticize the board a bit and to point professionals so that we can have a very efficient running of the organisation….” the minister noted.

“I think what this does as well is it gives the organisation a better opportunity to streamline itself,” he stated.

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