More locals must benefit from tourism’s spoils, says St. Lucian tour operator
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St. Lucian tourism entrepreneur John Mathurin
More local, indigenous and small tourism enterprises ought to participate in the development and benefits of tourism.
Speaking during this month’s Caribbean Hotel & Tourism Association (CHTA) 40th Caribbean Travel Marketplace in San Juan, Puerto Rico, John Mathurin, the general manager of St. Lucia’s Serenity Vacations and Tours, said while he was pleased to see an “amazing slew of international investors” engaged in the development of the tourism sector, it was important that “the indigenous, small tourism enterprises of the Caribbean participate in the ownership and bounties of the development of the tourism trade.”
Mathurin, who currently serves as first vice president of the Saint Lucia Hospitality & Tourism Association, has led the transformation of his destination management company in St. Lucia, by dispensing with several tour vehicles and allowing other players to become owners in the tourism sector. “So right now we are training and contracting the very people we used to compete with, and you have so many indigenous people now becoming interested in tourism transportation,” he disclosed.
“We train them in customer service, etiquette, quality of service delivery … as a result, it frees us as an entity to concentrate and focus on reaching the international market,” he said, explaining that this move has resulted in “greater communal spirit within the capitalistic system.”
Mathurin showered praise on CHTA and its leaders President Nicola Madden-Greig and Acting CEO and Director General Vanessa Ledesma, for embracing the thinking and the consciousness necessary for the deeper integration of the tourism sector and local people: “We understand the needs of the small tourism enterprises and that has been echoed in every forum within CHTA Marketplace.”
“What’s also very important is that as you converse and exchange with the buyers and even the sellers, they are embracing that if we are to be able to build and diversify the tourism product, the indigenous people have to be involved,” he added.