Much rid­ing on suc­cess of TEF

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

Toni Ni­cholas

With a prom­ise to of­fer up to the minute ac­count­abil­ity on the less than two years old Tourism En­hance­ment Fund, the Saint Lu­cia Ho­tel and Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion con­vened a press con­fer­ence on Tues­day. The TEF was cre­ated to al­low the SLHTA to be­come more in­te­grally in­volved in the sus­tain­able devel­op­ment of Saint Lu­cia. Launched in Novem­ber of 2013, the fund is driven by dona­tions from de­part­ing guests at some of the is­land’s ho­tels. US$2 per room night is charged to the guest’s bill, which rep­re­sents a vol­un­tary con­tri­bu­tion on their part.

Chaired by Do­minic Fedee, the con­fer­ence in­cluded by SLHTA pres­i­dent Karolin Trou­bet­zkoy; fund chair­man Sanovnik Des­tang and SLHTA ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent Noorani Azeez. Trou­bet­zkoy said her as­so­ci­a­tion had per­suaded the ho­tels to par­tic­i­pate in some­thing larger than their regular char­ity pro­grams and also to help cre­ate the TEF.

The SLHTA pres­i­dent re­vealed that par­tic­i­pat­ing in the fund were well over 2,000 ho­tel rooms, about seventy per­cent of the is­land’s room stock. Sev­eral SLHTA al­lied mem­bers have ex­pressed in­ter­est in the TEF.

“For me, what is also very inspiring is that this is a vol­un­tary pro­gram,” Trou­bet­zkoy said. “This means the ho­tels must en­cour­age guest par­tic­i­pa­tion al­most from the mo­ment of ar­rival.”

The TEF has raised just over EC$2.5 mil­lion, some $1.2 mil­lion of which has been dis­bursed, said Des­tang . “We have made an im­pact in the com­mu­nity and the tourism prod­uct in a very mean­ing­ful way,”

Ad­di­tion­ally: “We had to get to work quickly, get­ting in­volved in bring­ing re­lief to the com­mu­ni­ties of Anse LaRaye and Ca­naries in par­tic­u­lar. This al­lowed us also to as­sist the Ca­naries In­fant School to con­tinue op­er­at­ing in a tem­po­rary lo­ca­tion.”

The TEF has also em­barked on ten af­ter-school pro­grams, at a cost of $70,000. The fund is now em­bark­ing on a ma­jor ap­pren­tice­ship pro­gram.

Des­tang went on: “Right now in Saint Lu­cia we have over 20 per­cent un­em­ploy­ment and about 40 per­cent un­em­ploy­ment among the youth. At the same time, the ho­tels are say­ing they can­not get trained and qual­i­fied em­ploy­ees. So we de­cided to take the bull by the horns and ini­ti­ate an ap­pren­tice­ship pro­gram.”

The pro­gram is partly funded by the TEF with the sum of EC$400,000 and a match­ing con­tri­bu­tion from the Min­istry of Fi­nance. So far, more than three hun­dred in­di­vid­u­als have been placed in the two-month pro­gram that of­fers train­ing in man­age­ment, hu­man re­sources, food & bev­er­age and a num­ber of soft skills. The names of suc­cess­ful stu­dents are placed in a data bank, which can be uti­lized by not only the hos­pi­tal­ity sec­tor but other pri­vate sec­tor em­ploy­ers as well.

Noorani Azeez rec­om­mended a heavy fo­cus on the SLHTA’s hu­man re­source ini­tia­tives. “This is will en­sure that Saint Lu­cians avail them­selves of the op­por­tu­ni­ties that are out there.” In the com­ing months the TEF in­tends to em­bark on a public aware­ness cam­paign that will in­clude bill­boards at var­i­ous ports, be­gin­ning with He­wan­nora Air­port and the en­trance to the town of Soufriere.”

l-r Do­minic Fedee, Karolin Trou­bet­zkoy. Sanovnik Des­tang and Noorani Azeez.

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