The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

The year 2014 will go down as yet another record-break­ing year for Saint Lu­cia’s main eco­nomic en­gine, the vi­tal tourism in­dus­try.

Ac­cord­ing to fig­ures re­leased by the is­land’s prin­ci­pal pro­mo­tions and mar­ket­ing agency, the Saint Lu­cia Tourist Board (SLTB), to­tal stay-over vis­i­tor ar­rivals are es­ti­mated at 338,158; an im­pres­sive 6% in­crease from 2013.

The fig­ures, recorded for 7 months of 2014, namely Fe­bru­ary, March, April, June, Oc­to­ber, Novem­ber and De­cem­ber, were the high­est num­bers ever reached for th­ese spe­cific months.

At a news con­fer­ence con­vened on Tues­day, Jan­uary 13th to re­view the in­dus­try’s per­for­mance for 2014, Tourism Min­is­ter Lorne Theophilus, flanked by se­nior tourism of­fi­cials, among them Tourism Di­rec­tor Louis Lewis, Deputy Di­rec­tor of Tourism Tracey Warner-Arnold and Mar­itime con­sul­tant in the Min­istry of Tourism Cuth­bert Di­dier, reaf­firmed the buoy­ancy of the US mar­ket as the is­land’s main ge­o­graphic mar­ket.

“The US is by far the is­land’s largest source mar­ket, com­mand­ing just un­der half (42%) of to­tal ar­rivals. Fur­ther, ar­rivals from this mar­ket due to tar­geted mar­ket­ing strate­gies grew 11% over last year’s fig­ures,” Theophilus noted.

The UK main­tained its po­si­tion as the sec­ond largest source mar­ket with a 22% share of ar­rivals.

The Caribbean mar­ket shrank by 8% in 2014, ac­quir­ing 16% of mar­ket share. Min­is­ter Theophilus was, how­ever, quick to an­nounce key strate­gies which he says his Min­istry and the SLTB will ag­gres­sively pur­sue in an at­tempt to stem the tide and re­turn the Caribbean mar­ket to prof­itabil­ity in the long run.

Canada trails as the fourth largest mar­ket, de­spite a 15% in­crease in ar­rivals. France and Ger­many are steadily gain­ing mar­ket share, both record- ing in­creases in 2014.

To­tal air­lift to the is­land in­creased 5% in 2014. Air­lift from the US in­creased 10%, thanks mainly to ad­di­tional ser­vice on US Air­ways from Char­lotte, on United Air­lines from Ne­wark, with Jet Blue from JFK and Bos­ton, and Delta from At­lanta and JFK.

Air­lift from the UK in­creased 14% fol­low­ing the year-round ser­vice from Thomas Cook as well as the ad­di­tional fre­quency on Vir­gin At­lantic. Air­lift from Canada grew 18% with the ad­di­tional ser­vice from Air Canada out of Mon­treal as well as the new ser­vice in­tro­duced by Sun­wing from Toronto.

The Caribbean, how­ever, recorded an 8% drop in air­lift fol­low­ing LIAT’s con­sol­i­da­tion of ser­vices.

Fi­nance-wise, to­tal ex­pen­di­ture in­creased 14% for the pe­riod Jan­uaryDe­cem­ber 2014. The US and UK mar­kets recorded the great­est real growth in ex­pen­di­ture due to in­creases in both av­er­age daily ex­pen­di­ture and to­tal ar­rivals.

Im­pres­sive gains are also ex­pected within the yacht­ing sec­tor which recorded a 17% in­crease in ar­rivals up un­til Novem­ber 2014. Growth in that sec­tor was at­trib­uted to di­rect suc­cesses in gov­ern­men­tal yacht­ing leg­is­la­tion and Saint Lu­cia’s abil­ity to at­tract mega yacht­ing ini­tia­tives like the Rus­sian re­gatta, the Mer­cury sail­ing event and the ARC and its af­fil­i­ated events.

Saint Lu­cia tourism of­fi­cials ad­dress­ing

Tues­day’s news con­fer­ence.

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