MER­CURY BEACH: Back and Big­ger

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

Last year more than three thou­sand per­sons from Mar­tinique alone con­verged on Saint Lu­cia for the first ever Mer­cury Beach event at Pi­geon Is­land. The event had been a sta­ple in Mar­tinique for more than ten years, how­ever last year or­ga­niz­ers de­cided to pur­sue a new venue out­side of the French depart­ment with the as­sis­tance of Saint Lu­cia’s Mar­itime Con­sul­tant Cuth­bert Di­dier. With very lit­tle in­sti­tu­tional or pri­vate sec­tor spon­sor­ship, the event was an in­stant suc­cess. It was es­ti­mated that over the four day pe­riod when the French visi­tors were here more than two mil­lion dol­lars was in­jected into the lo­cal econ­omy. This was achieved through ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tions, taxis, shop­ping, dock­ing fees, fuel and other ex­penses in­curred by the visi­tors.

This year both the Min­istry of Tourism and the Saint Lu­cia Tourist Board have en­dorsed and are sup­port­ing Mer­cury Beach. The event, which is be­ing held to­day, Satur­day Au­gust 15 on the Pi­geon Is­land cause­way, is also be­ing spon­sored by Saint Lu­cia Dis­tillers, through Chair­man’s Re­serve, by Heineken and by Peter & Com­pany with Mokai.

“I am very happy once again that we can have the Mer­cury event tak­ing place in Saint Lu­cia,” stated tourism min­is­ter Lorne Theophilus at a press con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day. “Last year was its inau­gu­ral year in the is­land … the par­tic­i­pa­tion was ex­cel­lent and it cre­ated quite a buzz. So there is a huge kevel of ex­pec­ta­tion and an­tic­i­pa­tion on the part of not just the pa­trons of last year, but new pa­trons as well,” Theophilus said. He went on to say that from the min­istry’s per­spec­tive Mer­cury Beach is sig­nif­i­cant, bring­ing much ac­tiv­ity through visi­tor ar­rival dur­ing what is a typ­i­cally a slow pe­riod in the tourism sec­tor. He en­cour­aged Saint Lu­cians to em­brace the event, par­tic­i­pate and welcome those per­sons who will be com­ing to the is­land with the usual warm and friendly Saint Lu­cian hos­pi­tal­ity.

Cuth­bert Di­dier ex­pressed his ex­cite­ment at be­ing in­volved in the event again. “This event is a re­ally good mar­riage of a spe­cial niche in the boating sec­tor, speed boats,” he ex­plained. “I have said be­fore, Mar­tinique is France in the Caribbean; they are our next door neigh­bour and we should con­tinue to at­tract our French neigh­bours who have the dis­posi­ble in­come to come here with events like Mer­cury Beach,” Di­dier said.

Also speak­ing on Wed­nes­day was the di­rec­tor of tourism Louis Lewis. “From our per­spec­tive we are en­cour­aged to col­lab­o­rate with pri­vate sec­tor agen­cies to re­ally fa­cil­i­tate and en­cour­age visi­tor ar­rival to Saint Lu­cia,” Lewis said. “What we have to do now is to en­sure that we max­i­mize this by en­gag­ing the or­ga­niz­ers with a long term con­tract that will al­low us to mar­ket the event far and wide over a longer pe­riod of time,” he went on to say. The tourism di­rec­tor be­lieves that with Jazz fol­lowed by Car­ni­val and now Mer­cury Beach, the SLTB can fully mar­ket the is­land from spring to sum­mer as an ideal events des­ti­na­tion.

Marieanne Lou­vi­aux is one of the or­ga­niz­ers from Mar­tinique who said that af­ter last year’s suc­cess, pa­trons gave over­whelm­ing sup­port to the event re­turn­ing to Saint Lu­cia. In ex­plain­ing the choice of Saint Lu­cia she said, “it’s a beau­ti­ful is­land and it is a whole ex­pe­ri­ence. Peo­ple come for three or four days, they go to the street party in Gros Islet, they shop, they eat at restau­rants, so this is big­ger than just a boat thing or a big beach party.” She went on to thank the gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia for its sup­port this year as well as the spon­sors and the SLTB.

Mer­cury Beach is be­ing held as a land/sea event and will fea­ture “live” per­for­mances by lo­cal and re­gional acts as well as DJs and other side at­trac­tions. The event runs from 9am to 9pm.

Flash­back to last year’s Mer­cury Beach.

Louis Lewis (SLTB), Louis Fer­nand (Peter & Com­pany), Ser­gin Joseph (Saint Lu­cia Dis­tillers), Marieanne Lou­vi­aux (Mer­cury Beach or­ga­nizer) and Mar­itime Con­sul­tant Cuth­bert Di­dier at a press

con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day.

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