TORONTO — Just over 1.2 million visitors arrived in Saint Lucia in 2018, a 10.2% increase over 2017 – which was already a record-setter for the island.
Cruising is up by 13.6% and stay-over arrivals have increased by 2.2%.
Tourism Minister Dominic Fedee released the latest figures at a recently press conference and highlighted some of the steps the government has taken to reposition Saint Lucia’s tourism product to compete among other leading destinations.
“We have a very small tourism marketing budget – around US$13 million – so we have to ensure that our efforts are targeted,” said Fedee. “We use a scientific approach to select the areas where we can reach the most visitors with the highest net-worth in our marketing campaigns. For us, these areas are, predominantly, in the northeastern USA (the tri-state area and Boston), the southeast UK region of London and its surrounding suburbs, and the Greater Toronto Area in Canada.”
The island continues to record strong numbers in its major generating markets of the U.S., UK, and Canada, he added.
Stayover arrivals from Canada were recorded at 40,218 year to date, an increase of 4% during the month of December 2018. Canada is the third largest inbound market for visitor arrivals to Saint Lucia.
The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) also focused on the Martinique market, which is the highest yielding in the Caribbean, and launched ‘Caribcation’ in the summer of 2018 as a platform to attract more Caribbean travellers, whose numbers grew by 1.6% over 2017.
A record 760,306 cruise passengers visited the island during the period owing to an expansion of Berth #1 at Pointe Seraphine, which allowed Port Castries to accommodate Vista, Quantum and Freedom Class vessels.
Projections for 2019 look good, according to the SLTA, with British Airways pacing at 17% and Virgin Holidays at 27.9% over 2018. Condor also recently started an inter-airline agreement with LIAT for service from Frankfurt to Antigua and on to Saint Lucia, through March 31, 2019. A number of other major airlines have also expanded their service to the destination.
The SLTA adds that is angling for greater growth in 2019, and will continue with its aggressive, targeted marketing campaigns to attract even more visitors to the destination.