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.