CASTRIES, St Lucia, Friday April 27, 2012 – In spite of rising competition and what they call the general “volatility” of the industry, local tourism stakeholders are lauding a marked increase in the number of stay-over visitors to St Lucia for the first quarter of this year.
According to figures just released by the St Lucia Tourist Board, stay-over arrival arrivals to the island for the first quarter of this year totaled 95,170, representing a 15% increase over the same period last year.
Leading the way in this tourism increase to St Lucia is the United Kingdom, ringing in a 30% increase – a total of 23,479 visitors, 5,458 more than the same period last year.
A significant increase was also recorded from the Canadian market with 19,281 arrivals versus 15,035 recorded in 2011, representing a 28% increase.
Tourist arrivals from the island’s largest source market, the US, were up 9% over the same period last year, increasing from 32,014 in 2011 to 35,007 in 2012. Arrivals from the German market were also up recording a 15% increase in 2012, with 1,603 stay over arrivals; 205 more visitors than the same period last year.
The Caribbean market captured the fourth largest share (10%) of stay-over arrivals in the first quarter with a total of 9,207 visitors, a 1% decline from the same period last year. Arrivals from France were down 30% from 3,100 in 2011 to 2,177 in 2012, due largely the Tourist Board said, to the absence of the charter service this year.
Tourism Director Louis Lewis cites strategic marketing and promotional activities in key source markets as the main factors driving the increase. “The targeted marketing efforts have allowed St Lucia to remain competitive as a preferred destination,” says Lewis. “It is encouraging when our travel partners report increases to the destination, even in challenging times as it means we are doing something right as we create more demand for St Lucia.”
Cruise arrivals also showed an upswing this year, growing 3% in this first quarter, from 261,345 in 2011 to 269, 551 in 2012 recording an additional 8,206 visitors. This increase coincides with 20 more calls to the island this year, from 152 in 2011 to 172 in 2012 – a 13% increase the Tourist Board said.
Meanwhile, the picture being painted is not as rosy in the yachting division. Visitor arrivals by way of the island’s major facility the IGY Rodney Bay Marina totaled 9,016 or 9% less than the numbers recorded at the end of the first quarter in 2011. Yacht calls also decreased 6% during the same period, from 2,075 in 2011 to 1,942 in 2012.
At Marigot Bay, the total number of arrivals recorded for the period was 3,414; 16% less than the same period last year. A similar decrease was also noted in the number of yacht calls, which dropped from 824 in 2011 to 671 in 2012 – a 19% decrease.