Not only did 2019 mark 40 years of independence for Saint Lucia, it also achieved a record year for overnight stays and was again named “World’s Best Honeymoon Destination” for the 11th consecutive year.
Last night, the Saint Lucia Tourism Board hosted an event for travel agents and media at Hotel X in Toronto, where they thanked their amazing Canadian team and shared some highlights from their upcoming season of summer festivals.
“We are so grateful, we had an amazing year! We topped 400,000 overnight visitors for the first time ever in 2019 and that’s a result of the incredible support from the team here in Canada,” Tourism Authority CEO Beverly Nicholson Doty proudly announced. of Saint Lucia at yesterday’s event. “…in Saint Lucia, we do festivals well. It always starts with the Jazz Festival in May, then it goes to Carnival in June and July, it rolls in Roots and Soul and it ends with Creole in October.
Saint Lucia has hosted the Caribbean’s premier jazz festival for over 28 years since its inception in 1992. The festival has attracted visitors from around the world and following the success of the first Saint Lucia Jazz Festival produced in collaboration with Jazz at Lincoln Center in 2019, Saint Lucia announced earlier this month that it would continue the partnership for a second year. The three-day festival will feature world-renowned artists who have performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s seasonal concerts, including The Ramp on Rodney Bay and Gros Islet Park.
“These [events] are really just value-added reasons to visit Saint Lucia in the summer…” continued Nicholson Doty. “In addition to wonderful sulfur springs, mud baths, incredible beaches, magnificent vistas that you can visit all year round.”
The island whose economy is heavily funded by the tourism industry has seen many new developments over the past year, including the opening of the Royal Saint Lucia Turf Club. The government of Saint Lucia has also invested one hundred million dollars in improving the island’s infrastructure, including improving the local hospital and roads that support tourism. Additionally, an additional 2,000 rooms are also expected to be added to the islands accommodation portfolio over the next 3-5 years and improvements to the Port of Castries (St. Lucia’s main cruise port) are also promised.
“There is so much going on in Saint Lucia. We have new developments. Last December we opened the Royal Saint Lucia Turf Club, which had the richest [horse] race in the Caribbean. The new Cabot Resort and Resident Golf Club is coming to Saint Lucia. Just yesterday we inaugurated the new AMResorts that will be in Saint Lucia,” said Nicholson Doty.
Recently news broke of a new hotel entrance tax coming into effect this year to help support the marketing initiative. However, the Saint Lucia team assured us that compared to other taxes and fees in the region, the new fees are very moderate and are projected. have a minimal impact on overnight stays.
“We have new accommodation fees which will come into effect on April 1 and the purpose of these fees is to fund marketing initiatives for the island. It’s $3 per person [per night] up to $120 room rate and $6 per person for rooms above… In addition, VAT has been reduced from 10% to 7% for hotels. So while we wanted to create a revenue stream for our marketing initiatives, we certainly don’t want to do anything to undermine hotel and tourism development on the island,” explained Nicholson Doty.
Currently, Air Canada, West Jet and Sunwing all provide air travel to Saint Lucia. Air Canada offers daily flights to Saint Lucia from Toronto Pearson until the end of April, while West Jet flies twice a week and Sunwing once. In addition to flights from YYZ, Sunwing also offers direct flights from Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport to Saint Lucia once a week.