St. Lucia

Wilson Baptiste and Magdalene Cooman want to promote tourism to St. Lucia via their new business.

By Jasminee Sahoye

Two St. Lucian nationals residing in Ottawa are creating a buzz among fellow St. Lucians around the world with their slogan: Marketing is everybody’s business.

Since their business, Gems of St Lucia, St. Luciawas launched in April in Canada’s capital, about 50 people from 13 countries have already contacted the duo, with the intention of visiting the island, known as Helen of the West Indies because it switched so often from British to French colonization.

Gems of St Lucia, the brainchild of Wilson J. Baptiste, was conceived in 2008 to encourage the diaspora to come back to their home country, while creating jobs for locals and helping to drive the island’s tourism and hospitality sectors abroad.

After completing a master’s program in travel and tourism at New York University, Baptiste teamed up with Magdalene Cooman, who is Director of Operations, and the two are actively pursuing members of the diaspora and their friends to visit St. Lucia with the help of social media.

The positive response to Gems of St. Lucia is now a spin-off of Gems of the Caribbean as the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) has invited Baptiste to share his model with the Caribbean diaspora in New York and Toronto.

“In one case study we had, one hotel paid its membership fee of US$1,000 and within two months, we brought down people with business worth more than US$6,000. As a student in 2012 at NYU, I tested the student movement. I took three students, one Kazakhstan, one from Jordan, and one from Russia as they had never heard of St. Lucia and now they are dying to go back. So if you have a hundred students or a thousand students doing that, so you’ll see how much revenue is going into that island,” Baptiste tells The Camera.

He says those who buy into Gems of St. Lucia or Gems of the Caribbean and would like to join the dynamic team of tourism representatives will be rewarded through a referral system with a special code. There will be a central “processing house” to handle the transaction. Once that visitor travels to the destination and encourages others to visit, Baptiste says, more jobs will be created for locals and the economy will be better off economically.

However, it should be noted that the Gems of the Caribbean initiative is still in its infancy stage. Baptiste explains that they are in the process of building what he calls, the Friends of Gems Register.

“The way it works, is that we’d sent out a form on fluid survey. You go into that form and it asks you various questions, whether you want to be a friend, etc., what’s your speciality, what’s your profession, etc. You send that to us then we register you as a friend of Gems. If you’re from Guyana, we get in touch with tourism products of Guyana and get them to be friends of Gems. But the main thing is closing the sale.”

For more information on Gems of St Lucia, visit