Why The Exclusive Focus on Short-Stay Tourists in St. Lucia?

Minister Fedee indicated earlier that currently the average tourist to St. Lucia is only here for 5 nights. Hence an on-island PCR test where they would be restricted to their room until their results would be too much of an “inconvenience”?

We need to explore ways to increase the length of stay of visitors to St. Lucia that provide the greatest economic benefit to the island.

Stay-Over Nights Analysis

From the data at Government of Saint Lucia’s Open Data Visitor’s Arrival Update 2018 the average tourist stay was 8.36 nights in 2018 and from St. Lucia’s Stats Site was 8.1 nights in 2019. US tourists generally spend slightly less time so if the current tourist population is overwhelming US based then it might be closer to 7 nights which would still 40% more than Fedee’s 5 nights figure.

Is St. Lucia exclusively encouraging short-stay visitors to maximize the occupancy of the primarily foreign-owned all-inclusive hotels at the expense of other players in the tourism sector. “Prime Minister Chastanet noted that in the case of Barbados, the reason for the second test is because persons do not have as many all inclusive hotels.”

Caribbean Digital Nomad Programs

Why have there been no official government efforts to encourage visitors who may want to work from St. Lucia? The PM did mention the following in a recent interviewEqually, a person who is now going to work remotely, which has now become a common term, all of a sudden Saint Lucia becomes a great option to work in.

Other islands most notably Barbados and Antigua have announced formal programs to encourage visitors to work from their islands. Barbados describes their programme as follows “We recognise more people are working remotely, sometimes in very stressful conditions, with little option for vacation. Our new 12 month Barbados Welcome Stamp, a visa that allows you to relocate and work from one of the world’s most beloved tourism destinations.” Antigua as follows “Antigua and Barbuda is offering a long-stay visa programme, entitled “Nomad Digital Residence” (NDR). The programme is designed for persons whose work can be done remotely and are desirous of doing so from a safe Caribbean island with all modern amenities, including reliable and fast telecommunications to the world.”

A comparison of the potential financial benefit to St. Lucia is instructive, the typical current short-stay visitor is on island for 5 nights and spends $300 USD per night on island for room, food and other expenses resulting in a total of $1,500 USD primarily to their all-inclusive hotel. This is only 6% of the total spend of a remote worker who may spend $4,000 USD monthly at a total of $24,000 USD over 6 months to multiple players in the tourism sector.

Barbados Digital Nomad Results

Barbados authorities have indicated that there have been 1,693 applications from individuals and groups, accounting for 2,796 persons according to MarketWatch. The stamp costs $2,000 USD for individuals and $3,000 USD for families. Applications processed by September had brought in $1 million USD. This is likely to be an underestimate as other digital nomads who plan to stay 6 months or less would not have not applied for the Welcome Stamp application particularly given the additional cost.

There have been other significant benefits to Barbados such as a boost in real estate. This has been a huge boost to landlords in Barbados “The research showed that 30.7 per cent of the visiting workers budgeted between US$1,250 and US$2,500 for rent; 20 per cent had between US$5,000 and US$10,000, while 4.9 per cent were budgeting up to US$1,250.” Another great benefit that may have been unforeseen is an increase in volunteerism in BarbadosThis is a good thing for Barbados. They are not just here for sun, sand and sea. People here under the Welcome Stamp say they have settled here and are willing to assist where possible by giving back,” he said (Kemar Saffrey — President of Barbados Alliance to End Homelessness (BAEH)). Most of the persons who have expressed interest are well qualified to offer their services. Some have worked in shelters before or worked closely with the homeless. This expertise will help us to improve and strengthen our organisation,”

St Lucia Digital Nomad Programme Status?

Why was a similar programme not proposed for St. Lucia by the government? Some hoteliers such as Bay Gardens Extended Stay Programme. “Our Bay Gardens extended stay program is perfect for digital nomads or anyone who would like to work (or not work) remotely in Saint Lucia.”

On October 24th Richard Peterkin indicated from an Economic Update with Government “One last interesting snippet is that Government will roll out a Digital Nomad program, like Barbados, Antigua and the Cayman Islands, for individuals from foreign countries in the telecommunications technologies who want to work remotely in Saint Lucia for a longer period of time.”

Finola Clarke of Island Effect had the following survey on a Digital Nomad Programme for St. Lucia in August 2020 “For years, many have been calling for less focus and reliance on resource-taxing cruise ship passengers and guests in all-inclusive resorts that don’t share benefits of tourism around the island. Rather than using up our resources catering to visitors who stay a few hours or rarely spend money outside of their pre-booked packages, why not attract a different type of traveler? Why not market to those who are more conscientious about the cultures and environments that they are visiting, who want to stick around and experience the true authentic life and customs the Caribbean has to offer, and to spread their spending to local businesses and villages?”

However, as of December 5th 2020, no such program has been rolled out as yet. A digital nomad programme in St. Lucia would assist other failing tourism related sectors such as the restaurant sector.

Will St. Lucia ever attempt to have a more diversified and inclusive tourism sector or is that not a goal?

Please reach out to stlucia.analyser@gmail.com with any suggested topics for future articles.

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Critical data-driven research analysis of challenges facing Saint Lucia.

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The St. Lucian Analyzer

The St. Lucian Analyzer

Critical data-driven research analysis of challenges facing Saint Lucia.

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