Canadian travellers are always seeking new and exciting experiences, “and there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Saint Lucia,” says Andrew Ricketts – Public Relations, Canada / Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, in this edition of Friday 5.
1. Saint Lucia has always been extremely popular out of Canada. What are the latest visitor stats out of Canada and what markets are your strongest, and what markets are the most improved?
“Saint Lucia appeals to all types of travellers. Our tourism product is so diverse, the island has some of the Caribbean’s most stunning scenery from unspoiled rainforests to beautiful beaches and, of course, the iconic and majestic Pitons – Twin Peaks. Currently we are sitting at 27,763 [visitors from Canada] year to date.
“Romance / weddings & honeymoons continues to be our strongest market. Saint Lucia is an island where the greatest love stories unfold. We recently won ‘The Caribbean’s Leading Honeymoon Destination 2018’ for the 10th time in a row at the World Travel Awards this past September. Romance is simply a matter of course in Saint Lucia and many come to her golden shores to tie the knot.
“The wellness sector continues to grow and Saint Lucia saw this evolution early, so it has been a natural progression for the island. In November, Saint Lucia celebrates Health and Wellness Month. Properties like BodyHoliday Saint Lucia cater specifically to wellness travellers seeking seclusion in a serene environment. Stonefield Villa Resort also restructured its product offering, recently hosting its first Wellness Retreat with Canadian fitness instructor, Chloe Bent, this past August.”
2. Why do Canadians love vacationing Saint Lucia so much – what are the top selling points for this market?
“Canadians are always seeking new and exciting experiences, there’s no shortage of things to see and do in Saint Lucia. Offering the Caribbean’s only drive-through volcano, the Sulphur Springs Mud Baths have healing restorative minerals that rejuvenate the skin. It’s one of our most visited attractions. Or the hot mineral spring baths at the Diamond Falls / Botanical Gardens.
“Saint Lucia is one of the most scenic islands in the Caribbean for diving and snorkelling. In the town of Soufriere, the Pitons extend underwater to create some of the most beautiful and colourful diving sites.
“Saint Lucia is also a perfect family destination. There are plenty of all-inclusive resorts in Saint Lucia that cater to families such as Coconut Bay Beach Resort, located in the south of the island. They have CocoLand Waterpark, a fantastic kids’ club and their own lazy river. Bay Gardens Resort is home to Splash Island, the Caribbean’s first inflatable open-water sports park. This spot is perfect for wet family fun.
“Every Friday night the town of Gros Islet hosts a weekly ‘Jump Up’, or street party, where locals prepare barbecue street food and spiced rums. Party-goers dance to live music well into the early morning. Located across town in the fishing village of Anse-La-Raye there is a ‘Friday Night Fish Fry’ and the streets are filled with visitors and locals who line the beachfront to listen to music and enjoy freshly caught fish.”
3. What sort of lift do you have out of Canadian gateways for winter 2018/19?
“Air Canada Rouge has added an additional flight from Toronto (YYZ) to Saint Lucia (UVF) beginning on Oct. 31, 2018 to their schedule. The additional flight has increased their total frequency to four weekly flights from Toronto, with daily service starting Dec. 25, 2018. The new flight schedule features nonstop service on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday.
“Saint Lucia will also welcome a nonstop flight from Montreal (YUL) starting Dec. 21, 2018 with Air Canada mainline on their brand new 737-max aircraft. The larger aircraft increases their total seat capacity by 24% and 57% in full season. The Montreal-based flight will operate once a week every Friday. Air Canada has also extended its season, flying nonstop from Montreal to Saint Lucia until April 26, 2019.
“Sunwing returns this winter with nonstop service to Saint Lucia beginning on Oct. 20, 2018 from Toronto every Saturday. Sunwing also features a nonstop flight departing from Montreal to Saint Lucia this winter beginning on Dec. 15 until May 4, 2019.
“Starting on Oct. 29 WestJet will increase their nonstop weekly service to twice a week from Toronto to Saint Lucia, operating on Thursdays and Sundays until April 27, 2019.
4. Do you have any hotel/resort news you’d like to share?
“Saint Lucia is set to increase its room inventory by 50% over the next five years with the addition of over 2,000 hotel rooms.
“Recent hotel openings include The Royalton Saint Lucia, and Harbor Club – part of the Curio Collection by Hilton. We are also set to welcome renowned international brands such as Fairmont, Ritz-Carlton and AMResorts, and Sandals announced that it will build its fourth resort on the island.
“A new development has also been announced from Jade Mountain’s owner and architect, Nick Troubetzkoy. Plans have been unveiled to build a sister property – Jade Sea. The new Jade Sea development includes 24 Sanctuaries, with hopes to expand the property to 48.”
5. How is Saint Lucia working with Canadian travel agents to generate more Saint Lucia sales?
“The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) appointed Rod Hanna as our Trade Sales Manager. Rod is constantly on the road visiting agencies across the country. One of his main goals is to encourage travel agents to become a SLEx (Saint Lucia Expert), offering monthly cash incentives to the highest reporting agents and agencies.
“The SLTA has also conducted several familiarization trips to the island over the past few months to ensure travel agents got to experience Saint Lucia first hand.
“We’ve also worked closely with our industry partners – Air Canada Vacations, WestJet Vacations, Sunwing Vacations and TravelBrands – to conduct in-house trainings and attend cross-country product launches. This has really allowed us to get in front of thousands of agents to share new updates, info and collateral.
To become a Saint Lucia Expert visit: https://edu.recommend.com/courses/3/saint-lucia-expert-slex-program.