(STLUCIATIMES)Tourism Minister Dr. Ernest Hilaire highlighted the resilience of tourism in the aftermath of the passage of Tropical Storm Bret last week.
He told reporters Monday that the industry lost a day when Saint Lucia’s two airports temporarily closed.
However, the Castries South MP explained that the Island made up the following day due to increased flights.
“So we are getting back on course,” he said on the margins of a Cabinet meeting.
According to Hilaire, it demonstrates tourism’s resilience.
“You listen to people who say, ‘Oh, everything is tourism, tourism. Tourism is so fickle.’ Tourism is also the most resilient industry,” he asserted.
Hilaire recalled that Tropical Storm Bret damaged a significant portion of the agriculture industry.
He noted that it takes nine months for a banana tree to grow and bear.
“So all the banana trees we lost, there will be no income for the next nine months, and government has to come and help them to replant,” Hilaire told reporters.
“We had the same storm. By Sunday visitors were arriving as per normal,” he said.
Nevertheless, the Tourism Minister observed that things could become extreme, where a storm is so bad it destroys hotels, rendering them inoperable.
But he said should that happen, every agriculture field would also sustain damage.
“There’s actually a calypso that we’re building a destination and not a nation. To some extent she’s right and I would say to her, ‘The best destination is a nation’. When you can build a nation, you can sell that anywhere as a destination,” the Castries South MP noted.
“But you can’t say you’re not going to spend money on promoting the country because you need that money to spend elsewhere. But that’s what earns the money for the country in the first place,” Hilaire stated.
He spoke of the need for increased Saint Lucian participation in and ownership of the tourism industry, adding that the government was injecting many resources to achieve that end.
Hilaire stated that tourism brings in money, accounting for forty percent of GDP.