SLHTA’s gift to St Lucia - Its com­mit­ment to the hu­man and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment of its peo­ple

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

The Tourism En­hance­ment Fund was es­tab­lished in Oc­to­ber, 2013 in an ef­fort to play an ‘in­te­gral part in the sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of St Lucia’. Much has of­ten been ex­tolled about the mer­its of sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and it is at the fore­front of most tourism pol­icy de­vel­op­ment in the re­gion. In an in­dus­try of­ten per­ceived to be driven by only a de­sire for profit, the St Lucia Ho­tel & Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion, along with other agen­cies, has helped to re­frame long-stand­ing per­cep­tions and pro­vide a frame­work for con­tin­ued part­ner­ship with the com­mu­nity and the de­vel­op­ment of peo­ple over profit.

It is im­por­tant to ac­knowl­edge that there are have been mis­steps in the de­vel­op­ment of the tourism in­dus­try. Glob­ally, the in­dus­try has been crit­i­cized for green­house emis­sions and so­cial dis­lo­ca­tion. Lo­cally, crit­i­cisms have sur­rounded the loss of cul­tural her­itage, eco­nomic de­pen­dence and eco­log­i­cal degra­da­tion.

Pop­u­lar mis­con­cep­tions of an in­dus­try built on servi­tude and a lack of ad­vance­ment were some of the is­sues that the emer­gence to­wards sus­tain­able tourism as a pol­icy seeks to ad­dress. Sus­tain­able tourism is de­fined as “tourism that re­spects both lo­cal peo­ple and the trav­eller, cul­tural her­itage and the en­vi­ron­ment”. More im­por­tantly sus­tain­able tourism has sought to equip cit­i­zens with the long-term skills nec­es­sary to pro­fes­sion­ally ad­vance their ca­reers and to pro­vide their fam­ily eco­nomic se­cu­rity.

The Tourism En­hance­ment Fund bol­stered the so­cial con­science of the pri­vate sec­tor by making a com­mit­ment to cre­at­ing a vi­able and im­per­ish­able tourism prod­uct. The Fund has en­deav­ored to not only ad­vance projects that im­prove vis­i­tor ex­pe­ri­ence of the is­land, but this year alone it com­mit­ted $420,000 to Hu­man Re­source De­vel­op­ment within the in­dus­try.

Christ­mas time is syn­ony­mous with char­ity, the phil­an­thropic ex­er­cises that pro­vide some of the coun­try’s most needy with some hol­i­day cheer and bless­ings. Though th­ese ex­er­cises are nec­es­sary and ap­plauded, there must be an em­pha­sis on build­ing pro­grammes that pro­vide re­sources that would im­prove eco­nomic cir­cum­stances in the long-term and not just tem­po­rary hol­i­day re­lief.

A 2007 ar­ti­cle in The UK Guardian noted that sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment of tourism is the in­dus­try’s duty. Tourism and travel is the world’s lead­ing in­dus­try; ac­cord­ing to the World Travel & Tourism Coun­cil the in­dus­try is pro­jected to ac­count for 50.2% of St Lucia’s GDP by 2025; it cur­rently ac­counts for 45.4% of our GDP in 2015. Di­rect­ing our de­vel­op­ment ef­forts to­wards the tourism in­dus­try just sta­tis­ti­cally makes sense.

Through pro­grammes tar­geted at hu­man re­source de­vel­op­ment, the As­so­ci­a­tion has helped to not only pro­vide jobs to young per­sons but also to raise the av­er­age in­come of fam­i­lies by help­ing tal­ented and de­ter­mined work­ers ad­vance to higher po­si­tions in their com­pany. A 2014 United Na­tions re­port on sus­tain­able eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment in Small Is­land De­vel­op­ing States noted that “Sus­tained and in­clu­sive eco­nomic growth must in­clude the in­vest­ment in hu­man cap­i­tal com­ple­mented by pro­duc­tive in­vest­ment in the real econ­omy to cre­ate em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties . . . that are ac­ces­si­ble for marginal­ized groups in­clud­ing women, youth, and lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. Ad­dress­ing youth un­em­ploy­ment could po­ten­tially help ease many so­cial prob­lems such as high lev­els of crime and violence in sev­eral coun­tries.”

Sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment works be­cause it re­sponds to the present day needs of peo­ple and the so­ci­ety at large while bol­ster­ing fu­ture gen­er­a­tions’ abil­ity to meet their own needs. The tourism in­dus­try is here to stay and as it grows it will re­quire a stronger and more di­verse work­force. The tourism in­dus­try is re­spond­ing to this coun­try’s un­em­ploy­ment cri­sis by strength­en­ing its tourism prod­uct and en­abling employees to in­crease their earn­ing power. The gift of sus­tain­able tourism de­vel­op­ment ben­e­fits the en­tire com­mu­nity and pro­vides to St Lucia a gift that can be en­joyed all year round.

The SLHTA’s Tourism En­hance­ment Fund (TEF) con­trib­uted to many worth­while causes in­clud­ing a con­tri­bu­tion to Jus Sail’s Youth Train­ing Pro­gramme which saw ten ad­di­tional young un­em­ployed Saint Lu­cians gain­ing valu­able life skills and

ex­pe­ri­ence.

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