(ST.LUCIA TIMES)Minister for Tourism, Investment, Creative Industries, Culture and Information, Dr. Ernest Hilaire, has expressed his desire for the various sectors to collaborate, further strengthening the island’s economy and creating employment. Community tourism is one initiative with this aim in mind.
“The community tourism initiative is about offering authentic Saint Lucian experiences to our visitors. Many agents, and those who sell have an understanding of what we can offer. They want to see things that are authentic. They want to see how we live our lives, how we earn our livelihoods. We can make that itself an economic activity.”
Upcoming plans to improve the tourism experience, the livelihoods of workers in the sector and generate employment were also revealed by the minister.
“Over the next few months, we will be coming to parliament with a new Tourism Development Act. The act that exists now does not favor the tourism industry that benefits our people first and foremost. Our tourism industry that brings in over a billion dollars is largely foreign owned. How do we change it? For example, when we give incentives to developers they will have to demonstrate that they will follow green energy practices, forge linkages with agriculture, and pay workers a higher wage than what is prevailing in the market. When we offer incentives, it must be linked to some clearly-identifiable national priority so we can get the industry re-oriented and serving our people. Agriculture is at the centre of that.”
The minister believes the initiative will also contribute to the decrease of the island’s food import bill.