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SLu officials dismiss comment from B'dos’ Tourism Minister

Lorne-Theophilus

CASTRIES, St.Lucia- Tourism officials in St.Lucia are taking in stride what’s being viewed disparaging comments made by Barbados’ Minister for Tourism Richards Seales, on the country’s tourism product.

Seals has been quoted in the media as saying that St. Lucia’s tourism product lags behind that of Barbados by some thirty years.

While the statement has not triggered an official response from the Government, Tourism Minister Lorne Theophilius, insists that he will not be drawn into a verbal battle with his Barbadian counterpart over the remark.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Donovan Williams said St.Lucia has chosen to ignore the remarks as the focus is not to tear down another Caribbean nation but to build a competitive market that would attract an increasing number of visitors from all over the world.

“We have to focus on how we make our product more competitive, we have had a recent study from the IFC which indicated some of the ways we can maximise our potential to make us an even more competitive destination.

From a regional perspective, we do need to understand that it is not for us to be competitive as individual islands but we need to sell our destinations, as one region as there are greater benefits from doing that. But when we publically make comments that tries to break that up then it becomes counter productive,” Williams said.

He noted that his Ministry will continue to make the region more attractive and augment the region’s tourism product.

For his part, Director of Tourism Louis Lewis, said that Barbados’ Tourism Minister might have been reacting under pressure to explain why St. Lucia’s hospitality sector had surpassed that of Barbados.

“St.Lucia’s dominance in the market has actually increased. If you look anywhere, travelers are looking for options and alternatives and that has not happened in a long time and the pressure the Barbados Minister has been under to explain why St. Lucia has surpassed them in terms of visibility, it really speaks to the fact that we are out there promoting.”

The Tourism Director said the many accolades St.Lucia has received over the last few months is sufficient proof that the island’s marketing and promotion strategies have paid off.

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