Village Tourism Incorporated (VTI) is the first of its kind in the Caribbean, an initiative focused on driving community tourism, while encouraging tourists to immerse themselves in the rich history and culture of the destination. The objective is to create new employment opportunities for local Saint Lucian entrepreneurs and existing businesses owners in rural communities.
While Saint Lucia rebounds from the crippling effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the diversification and expansion of the local community tourism product is needed to sustain an economy that’s GDP is 65% dependant on tourism. Village Tourism will provide an authentic experience, all while integrating tourists into the fabric of the Saint Lucia’s economy.
Following an agreement signed between The Government of Saint Lucia and the Caribbean Development Fund (CDF) on September 3, 2020 that established a framework for the Village Tourism project, Anse La Raye on October 15, 2020, during a handing over ceremony at the Village’s waterfront, received a cheque of US$ 1, 865,671.00 million towards the development of quality community infrastructure which will see the upgrading of the Fish Fry vending stalls and the village square, the creation of waterfront local seafood restaurants, bars, and a café. The advanced stages of the project will also see the conversion of the Old Police Station to include Government offices and an information booth at the Foundation, The upgrading of the Jetty and Installation of Moorings.
Phase One of Village Tourism kicked off in 2019 with the grand opening of the Hummingbird Beach Facility in Soufriere, a beachfront facility comprised of restaurants, bars, and souvenir shops. Shortly after, Saint Lucia welcomed another new attraction, “Glittering Sands” – two exotic beaches with private event space located just north of Anse-la-Raye Village. Along with Gros Islet and Soufriere, this community will serve as a pilot
Tourism Minister and Parliamentary representative for Anse La Raye / Canaries called on young people of the community to step outside their comfort zones and seize all budding opportunities to become entrepreneurs and creators of employment. “This is a historical and much anticipated day. It brings me great joy to see that Anse La Raye will no longer be stigmatized as one of the most marginalized communities. I urge residents to take the journey with us for a changed community, and a changed mindset for an overall beneficial trajectory. Let the Work Begin!”
The Village Tourism Project will convert eight (8) communities into tourism destinations for locals and visitors, showcasing the unique culture, heritage, and history of Gros-Islet, Anse La Raye, Canaries, Soufriere, Choiseul, Vieux Fort, Micoud and Dennery.
Once work is complete on the three named pilot communities, work will then commence within the other communities simultaneously.
Ambassador H.E. Peter Chia-yen Chen of the Embassy of the Republic of China -Taiwan said, “Taiwan is proud to be able to add strength to village tourism promoted by the government of Saint Lucia. Saint Lucia and Taiwan are very similar in culture and experiences and we are looking forward to seeing a brighter future in the tourism industry.”
The Village Tourism business grant is designed to encourage entrepreneurs and property owners in each village to upgrade their facilities and product offerings. All business owners will be licensed and will undergo training to ensure that the accommodations and services are at the same level as they would be in a hotel or resort. Local owners will also be supported with branding, marketing, sales, customer service and accounting systems.