So is this it...it appears that we all seem content to just sit back and wait for the restart of the tourism sector, so all our lives can just ....go back to being 'normal' again.
It has been five (5) weeks since the last hotel shut its doors to visitors and seven (7) weeks since the last cruise ship decided to turn away and go back to its point of origin....without one single passenger disembarking. The last plane left with its premature 'cut short' vacations...and not long afterwards, industry workers were shuffled off to their homes, .... sheltering full time... by the thousands with no income. The critical importance of the sector was evident. Our dependance on the linkages in the industry proven, in an instant.
It was not long before taxi operators, boat operators, bars and vendors packed away their tools and went home...to wait it out, from a safe distance.
Then the economic downturn placed the 'headlock' on farmers, egg producers and importers..as demand for their products fell with the absence of the visitor population, which by the way, significantly exceeds the local population both in numbers and consumption.
In 2019 St Lucia hosted a total of #1,276,751 the majority of that number in the cruise sector, but still over #423,736 staying one week or more. The yachting sector brought in an additional population of #66,272 .
Losing that tourismincome sector will be the greatest challenge that we ever faced. The true loss of this sector will show up later as hotels and large business have subsidized the cost and quality of our utilities. As this crisis matures, we can expect the pressure to flow with gravity as we struggle to pay the true cost for these services.
So ...we all went home and waiting patiently for the world to start up again. ...what ever happened to " making the most of a good crisis" . ..and as we well know, there were so many things to streamline. Before Coronavirus we were already on the 'war path' with the industry, the hotels and investors. By January 2020 issues of congestion, ownership and access dominated the news with more bickering around the tourism industry as I have seen in years.
The collision course of St Lucian vs. Development was well on the way within a system that had been broken for years. Perhaps we could take this opportunity to reset and plan to fix the linkages issues.
- Rodney bay is now beautiful with clean water and hardly any yachts, how do we take the opportunity to regulate and empower the council to deal with berthing issues.
- Agriculture linkage to the industry is now or never. What other better opportunity will we have.
- The diminished Solid waste disposal along roadways, because of diminished traffic and public movement, are we just waiting to go back to the good old days. No relevant campaign ... no awareness drive.