The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority has hosted its ninth annual showcase, this year welcoming more than 200 UK travel industry specialists.
The aim of the event is to update partners on Saint Lucia news and to hear from key operators, airlines and agents on what they need to market the destination.
The minister for tourism, information, broadcasting, culture and creative industries, Dominic Fedee, began the week by announcing a £230 million infrastructure overhaul of Saint Lucia’s east coast and west coast roads, the international airport, water supply, the new racecourse and the cruise terminal.
He went on to update on the Village Tourism Programme which has undergone significant development since its launch a year ago.
Eight communities were earmarked to be converted into tourism destinations, showcasing the unique culture, heritage and history.
Each has a different focus, thereby creating an experience for visitors unlike any other destination.
With formal funding, locals enhance what they offer to visitors and therefore benefit directly.
The programme is well underway with Soufriere taking the lead having opened a new beach park, town square, bus terminal and market which means that four major projects have been completed in under 16 weeks.
Prior to Showcase, Saint Lucia Tourism Authority carried out research amongst 2,000 British residents across the UK to find out more about the priorities for holidays.
The results support the village programme, showing the majority of tourists like to get out and about to experience a destination first-hand.
Once on a trip, holidaymakers first opt to try the local cuisine (74 per cent) with 59 per cent looking to get to know the history and culture of the area.
Throughout the showcase, a series of networking meetings and events took place covering Saint Lucia news, tourism developments and new information on accommodation and excursions.
Key annual elements included a media lunch, a meet and greet for MICE buyers, the appreciation dinner for senior UK travel personnel and a full day of combined training and entertainment for travel agents.
Beverly Nicholson-Doty, chief executive for the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, added: “It was a genuine pleasure to meet our British partners.
“We have much to thank them for and it is imperative that we find out how we can continue to work together to optimum effect.
“We updated the UK trade on all aspects of our work including our largest ever advertising budget to further drive stay-over arrivals.”