By Gerald V. Paul
Saint Lucia Tourist Board has launched a dedicated marketing initiative to reach the island’s Diaspora in North America and the U.K. called Se Sannou, meaning “it’s our thing,” in Creole.
“The program is designed to strengthen ties with the Diaspora community as a knowledgeable and valuable resource to showcase the island as a choice vacation destination in lead source markets,” Minister of Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries Lorne Theophilus told The Camera in an interview prior to the launch last Saturday in Toronto.
According to Theophilus, a lawyer with a strong belief in his people and Saint Lucia, “We have had a strong alliance between Canada and Saint Lucia since the 1970s and this is something we have built on. Tourism is our main economic driver and the lifeblood of our country. Something we treasure and protect.”
He noted the Saint Lucia Tourist Board is offering dedicated training sessions for members of the Diaspora who wish to become skilled “Diaspora Touchpoints.” Tourism ambassadors will be equipped with a Se Sannou toolkit, marketing materials, merchandise and a quarterly newsletter with trends and island developments.
The Canadian visitor market grew last year by 13%. Saint Lucia saw a six percent increase in stay-over arrivals for 2014, with 336,000 stay-over visitors. They expect the room stock in Saint Lucia to increase by about 1,200 rooms by 2016.
A dedicated landing page will be included on http//stlucia.com/and an invitation-only Facebook group will connect the Diaspora community and encourage worldwide member dialogue. Prizes will be awarded for lead generation, including the chance to win a family vacation for four to Saint Lucia.
Theophilus added that the Saint Lucia Jazz and Arts Festival, slated for May 10 to 30, is “unique! It’s “revamped, redesigned and with a broadened artistic direction.”
He called it the Caribbean’s premier cultural event and predicted it will attract thousands. “Cultural enthusiasts, festival lovers and music aficionados will be wooed by over 50 world-acclaimed entertainers and artisans over the 11-day festival.” Included in the lineup are Robin Thicke, Jimmy Cliff, Beres Hammond, Chronixx, Krosfyah and Grant Stewart.
The Jazz and Arts Festival serves as a springboard for Saint Lucia’s Carnival.