Sept 27, 2020


Dear SLHTA members and travel partners,

We are pleased to join the global tourism community in observing World Tourism Day on Sunday, Sept 27.

Since 1980, Sept 27 has been celebrated by the United Nations World Tourism Organization as World Tourism Day.

This date was chosen as on that day in 1970, the Statutes of the UNWTO were adopted. The adoption of these Statutes is considered a milestone in global tourism. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide. 

This year’s theme is “Tourism and Rural Development”.

 “Tourism and Rural Development” and this day of observation comes at a critical moment, as countries around the world look to tourism to drive recovery from the effects of the pandemic, including in rural communities where the sector is often a leading employer and economic pillar. 

In a recent release of a landmark Policy Brief on tourism from UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, he explained that “for rural communities, indigenous peoples and many other historically marginalized populations, tourism has been a vehicle for integration, empowerment and generating income.”

Zurab Pololikashvili, the UNWTO Secretary-General, said that "Tourism helps rural communities hold onto their unique natural and cultural heritage, supporting conservation projects, including those safeguarding endangered species, lost traditions or flavours.”

The theme “Tourism and Rural Development” fits very nicely with us here in Saint Lucia where our Government recently signed the Village Tourism Incorporated Grant Agreement along with the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF). We have been told that the Village Tourism initiative is in keeping with the Government of Saint Lucia’s plan to improve the competitiveness of the tourism sector, through deliberate planning and management of the provision of tourism services at the community level, to reduce sector leakages caused by a lack of local ownership.  Village Tourism will focus on homestays, small intimate and exotic hotels, restaurants, bars and shops; all of which will embrace the unique socio-cultural and architectural attributes of the target locations.

This Village Tourism initiative is good news and is hopefully an indicator that more accommodation and tourism service providers will soon be able, once again, to welcome all visitors no matter where there are from. Our visitors are looking to book and enjoy a mix of available accommodations, from rooms in private homes to small and large hotels, luxury villas and luxury resorts. And of course, our visitors are looking to experience an authentic Saint Lucia experience, visiting natural attractions, partaking in adventure activities, learning about our history and culture and sampling our culinary offerings.

We have full confidence in our members and by extension, those operating in the tourism environment to create professional, safe protocols around their accommodation or attraction product because let us face it, hygiene and health have become an integral part of the new normal of tourism operations.

Safe protocols are the key to restoring confidence in travel and tourism, not only with our future visitors but also with our team members and communities.

"Tourism is one of the world’s most important economic sectors. It employs one in every ten people on Earth and provides livelihoods to hundreds of millions more. It boosts economies and enables countries to thrive. 

It allows people to experience some of the world’s cultural and natural riches and brings people closer to each other, highlighting our common humanity. Indeed, one might say that tourism is itself one of the wonders of the world. That is why it has been so painful to see how tourism has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In the first five months of this year, international tourist arrivals decreased by more than half and some $320 billion in exports from tourism were lost. Overall, some 120 million direct jobs in tourism are at risk. Many are in the informal economy or in micro, small and medium-sized enterprises, which employ a high proportion of women and young people.”

 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
The global tourism community will celebrate this year’s World Tourism Day with mixed feelings.

On the positive side, it is in our nature to travel. "To Travel is to Live”, said Hans Christian Andersen. There is no doubt "travel will be back”. And the Caribbean is rated as one of the regions globally, that will be most desirable and sought after by the travel community. 

On the downside, many tourism business owners, globally, regionally and locally, are asking themselves whether they will be able to survive until, indeed, “travel will be back”. The anticipated slow recovery curve may even be slower if there are new spikes in COVID-19 infections worldwide and new lockdown measures will affect people’s ability to move freely.

This is why industry support at this time is so crucial. A crisis can be an opportunity, if there is available funding to use the downtime or quiet time to build back stronger, operate more sustainably, become more resilient and enhance the product offering itself.

For so many years, we took the freedom to travel the world for granted. Not only that, we also took for granted that we could run our tourism businesses freely and without interference, as long as professional standards were met. COVID-19 has taken away not only our freedom to move around, it has also greatly affected the way we run our businesses, if indeed we are permitted to run our businesses at all.

We would be remiss to not acknowledge the efforts of our Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Belmar-George and her team, as well as the team at the Ministry of Tourism, led so expertly by Permanent Secretary Donalyn Vittet. We applaud their commitment and hard work to re-open tourism in a safe and responsible manner. 

With the threat of COVID-19 being a part of our lives and the tourism environment for many more months to come and with no clear end date in sight, we encourage a dialogue between our public and private tourism sector on how our businesses may regain some more of their autonomy.

To give our tourism businesses the maximum opportunity for survival, oversight must not strangle the economic recovery, and just as we are aware of the need to build trust with our future visitors, employees and communities, a level of trust has to be developed with our tourism business providers. 
Considerations of how we demonstrate this trust, must be key in our reflections on World Tourism Day 2020. 

Karolin Troubetzkoy
Saint Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Association
Tourism is a social, cultural and economic phenomenon which entails the movement of people to countries or places outside their usual environment for personal or business/professional purposes.
To move, to breathe, to fly, to float, To gain all while you give, To roam the roads of lands remote:
To travel is to live.
Hans Christian Andersen