Saint Lucia’s tourism sector recorded a 1 percent increase in stay-over arrivals for 2016.
According to figures released by the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, while total stay-over visitor arrivals for 2016 increased to an estimated 350 thousand, the industry failed to show growth in the cruise and yachting sectors, both contracting by 13 percent and 1 percent respectively.
However, both sectors fared better in the final quarter of the year reporting double-digit growth in the last four months.
At a state of the industry press conference convened on March 7, Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee and the Saint Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB) Executive Chairperson, Agnes Francis, in a presentation to the local media, spoke optimistically about Saint Lucia’s projected performance for 2017.
The US market continued to grow in 2016, with stay over arrivals increasing by 5 percent. The Caribbean market saw considerable growth of 7 percent, surpassing the UK market. Mrs. Francis, pointed to an encouraging performance from the UK market in December, with a 3.9 percent increase.
Canada continued to trail as the fourth largest market, capturing 11 percent of the market share. Encouraging increases in Canadian arrivals were observed in the last eight months of the year. The European market retained a minimal share of the market, capturing 5 percent of stay-over arrivals.
Francis said this year’s performance was shadowed by a number of world events that had a significant effect on travel, including Britain’s exit from the European Union (Brexit), global security threats and the Zika Virus.
Indications are that cruise arrivals will grow by 16 percent in 2017, and additional airlift is expected to boost the US and Canadian stay-over markets.
Additionally, new properties and renovations to existing properties will be adding more rooms throughout the year and planned expansions in the cruise and yachting sectors suggest a relative increase in visitor arrivals for 2017.