St. Lucian nationals in Canada are invited to become tourism ambassadors as part of a dedicated marketing initiative launched by the island’s tourist board.
The ‘se san nou’ (Creole for it’s our thing) program is designed to increase tourism by utilizing the strong and knowledgeable Diaspora community.
Minister of Tourism & Creative Industries, Lorne Theophilus, was in Toronto last weekend to promote the new initiative to St. Lucian organizations and nationals in the Greater Toronto Area.
“This is our way of engaging our considerable Diaspora in our major source markets that include Canada,” he said. “I think it’s very important that we reach out to them for help to market our destination.”
The St. Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB) will provide training sessions for nationals interested in becoming “Diaspora Touchpoints”. As part of their ‘se san nou’ toolkit, they will receive marketing material, merchandise and a quarterly newsletter with trends and island developments.
A dedicated landing page will be included on http://stlucianow.com and an invitation-only Facebook group will connect the Diaspora community and encourage worldwide member dialogue.
“The whole idea is to get the Diaspora actively involved in this initiative,” said Theophilus. “They live here and they know people who might be interested in visiting our island. This is an opportunity for them to go behind those people and convince them that St. Lucia is the place for them to relax and have a good time.”
Louis Lewis, the SLTB director of tourism, said the Diaspora community is in a unique position to share their love and knowledge of the land of their birth with others.
“They are an untapped resource who can be passionate advocates and help contribute to St. Lucia’s leading tourism industry,” he said.
The idea for the initiative was conceived by Ross Cadasse, the president of the 45-year-old St. Lucia Toronto Association, which is one of three active St. Lucian organizations in the GTA. The others are the St. Joseph Convent Alumni and the St. Lucia Aid Action Group.
Cadasse ran the family-owned Caribbees Hotel, which was sold and renamed Cara Suites Castries.
“When I was in the hotel industry, Barbados ran a similar program that was very successful,” he said. “All I did was share this with the minister and others in the tourism industry in St. Lucia with the hope that it could generate more business opportunities for St. Lucians. We send barrels and other things back to our homeland. But by sending people, we will create business opportunities that in turn will help to stimulate the economy.”
Cadasse was referring to the Barbados Family & Friends Club (BFFC), which was launched for nationals in the Diaspora to be an extended sales force for the country.
Created by the Barbados Tourism Authority, the BFFC scheme was developed to encourage Bajan nationals in the Diaspora and friends of Barbados to promote the country as a vacation destination choice.
Last year, there was a 13 per cent increase in Canadian visitors to St. Lucia whose Pitons – two volcanic mountainous spires – on the island’s southwest coast are world heritage sites.
“We have a beautiful product that is finally getting out there,” said Theophilus. “We are also now reaping significant benefits from a strategic marketing approach that we adopted.”
Sunwing Travel Group’s Blue Diamond resorts recently purchased the 350-room Smuggler’s Cove Resort & Spa. The beachfront property is the latest addition to the fast-growing hotel group, which includes the Royalton, Memories and Grand Lido brands.
Beginning last October, Sunwing has been offering non-stop flights on Saturdays from Toronto to St. Lucia and winter flights on Tuesdays from last December to April 28.
Air Canada also offers non-stop flights between Toronto and St. Lucia.