Hotels Are The New Black

I sometimes feel the need to conduct a survey, just to assess if St Lucians REALLY believe that we need two, three, five or even one new hotel at this point. I am no expert on tourism, yet my concerns are warranted as I have never known of every single hotel being filled to capacity at the exact same time, with tourist pouring out of the windows. If it’s not broken, why fix it? If it’s not filled, why expand it?

Now I know that planning ahead is the only way of ensuring sustainability. I also know that planning ahead is not the same as overkill. The fact that I do not see the need for St Lucia to be ‘blessed’ with multiple new hotels and all-inclusive resorts does not mean that I do not want a progressive St Lucia. Neither should it give any notification of my political misgivings – but I digress.

In inquiring why we really needed another Sandals Resort, or ‘Sunset Bay’ in Choiseul, or even (yes EVEN) DSH, I was given the St Lucian usual: jobs. And sure, new hotel = jobs.  Yes sure, jobs = lower employment rate. And lower employment rate = less boys on the block. I am all for jobs and would be wrong to think otherwise.

Where the issue arises is that consecutive governments find it easiest to relegate all jobs to hotel jobs, or within the tourism sector. I also know that not everyone will be a waiter, or gardener, or housekeeper or any of the other jobs that most people refer to as ‘menial’. The aptly qualified would be managers, supervisors, executives and the like. All fine and dandy. Independent contractors would benefit: farmers, fishermen, factories, et cetera.

Beyond all of this, I still fail to be convinced that this is an absolute need. The burden of jobs is largely placed on the shoulders of the tourism industry, and other industries continue to remain underdeveloped. A strong link has yet to be created between the agricultural industry and the manufacturing sector. The farm to factory relationship in St Lucia suffers. The opportunity to generate internal revenue isn’t being exploited.

It seems as though the need to be the number one tourism destination overrides the need to better the people and the infrastructure for the people. Development seems to occur as a predecessor to new hotels. Cleaning up the Gros Islet town, ‘taking down illegal signs’ as per PM Chastanet and making Gros Islet Friday Night and ‘every night’ event are all in an effort to draw visitors in to the new Sandal’s development. But like I said – Hotels Are The New Black.

 

 

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