The Tourism Enhancement Fund is set to embark on its annual Xmas Hampers distribution to spread the seasonal cheers and goodwill to families in need. Annually over 250 hampers are distributed to needy families islandwide containing sanitary products, food items and other household supplies. This year the SLHTA has been inundated with requests for support from a number of communities and is exploring increasing the number of hampers to 300. The hampers are usually distributed directly by the TEF and through churches, community groups and the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force.
Bank of Saint Lucia and Savings Bank Foundation for International Cooperation were two of the institutions with whom Tourism Enhancement Fund Program Manager met this week to discuss the SLHTA’s Enterprise Development Fund. The Enterprise Development Fund is a project initiative of the SLHTA seeking to make available to established local entrepreneurs, small loans at reduced interest rates which will enable them to expand their production and service offerings. The focus is currently on supporting existing enterprises which have already been in operation but seeking a financial injection to better penetrate the tourism and hospitality sector. The project was presented at this year’s Annual General Meeting of members as a new initiative seeking to build on the organization’s sterling linkages program.
On Tuesday 24th September, the Saint Lucia Hospitality & Tourism Association’s Tourism Enhancement Fund hosted a corporate mixer at the inaugural Saint Lucia Air & Sea Ports Authority’s (SLASPA) Port Showcase. The event, hosted at the Harbor Club, was an ideal moment not only for the Association to show support to their corporate partner SLASPA but to provide their membership a befitting atmosphere to foster business and networking opportunities with related industry partners.
In her remarks to the gathering, Karolin Troubetzkoy, SLHTA President, disclosed that “creating opportunities for our members to meet in an informal atmosphere to connect and network was at the forefront of new activities we wanted to introduce at the SLHTA. We are therefore very pleased that our first social mixer took place and could not have hoped for a better partner to collaborate with than SLASPA”.
The Corporate Mixer also served as a moment of celebration for the Tourism Enhancement Fund as they announced the introduction of level of membership within the Fund, titled ‘Friends of TEF’, that will allow the Fund to allow donations, pledges and commitments for non-accommodation corporate partners.
Currently, the TEF is financed by a US$2 per night voluntary donation from guests at hotels across the island. The funds raised by these member hotels are channelled into community development and environmental projects which impact the livelihoods of current and future generations.
“Today marks a special milestone for us and we are pleased to share with you, another evolution of our TEF. While we have in the past received donations from partners such as Serenity Vacations and Sea Spray Cruises, we are delighted today to announce our first friends of the TEF,” pronounced John Mathurin, TEF Trustee and SLHTA First Vice President, “The Saint Lucia Air and Sea Ports Authority has agreed to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the TEF for an annual donation which will be matched by the TEF to undertake specific projects earmarked by the two partners. This agreement with SLASPA marks the first seed capital of this nature and we hope this will inspire other corporate partners to step forward and be counted as Friends of the TEF”.
The Fund established in 2013, has been able to execute over 250 projects that address issues surrounding climate change, community resilience, environmental preservation and economic livelihoods. With continued and growing support from partners like SLASPA, the fund has set its sights on a number of pertinent projects in the coming year including the Enterprise Development Fund, a loan guarantee facility which will enable qualifying small businesses to access the capital so SLHTA Tourism Enhancement Fund critical to enhancing their competitiveness and profitability and a National School Bursary Project that will provide scholarships for students in need.
With support from the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF), the Saint Lucia Hospitality & Tourism Association (SLHTA) and the Caribbean Hotel Tourism Association Education Foundation (CHTAEF), 180 Saint Lucian hospitality workers polished their skills in a series of guest service training sessions.
Dubbed ‘Heartfelt Guest Care to Welcome the World’, the training this month gave hospitality team members, supervisors, managers, and owners the knowledge and skills needed to best serve a new and diverse generation of customers. Launched by CHTAEF in partnership with Virgin Holidays, the program equips hospitality professionals across the Caribbean with guest care and diversity training to enable them to better understand and cope with the needs of the rapidly changing demographics of modern customers.
The training was created to demonstrate and enhance the benefits of diversity and inclusion within the tourism industry by generating in all 180 participants, from 14 hotels, an appreciation of the broad diversity of today’s travelers and how to warmly welcome them all. The St. Lucia series of workshops was sponsored by CHTAEF with additional support provided by the Saint Lucia Tourism Enhancement Fund. The Fund provided an additional US$8,000 to deliver four more days of the workshops, ensuring many more SLHTA members could receive the training.
The sold-out workshops were held in both the north and south of the island from September 16 to 20, 2019 and concluded with a certificate ceremony for participants on Wednesday, September 25 at Bel Jou Hotel attended by Minister of Tourism Dominic Fedee, representatives from the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, the TEF, SLHTA, Virgin Holidays and CHTAEF.
CHTAEF Chairman, Karolin Troubetzkoy, was delighted with the program’s success and said the main value of the workshops was its recognition of the natural hospitality of Caribbean people and how it could be enhanced to recognize and serve the rapidly changing types of people making up the ranks of visitors to the region.
In his remarks to attendees, John Mathurin, TEF Trustee and SLHTA First Vice President, emphasized that “initiatives like these are central to the TEF’s continued mandate of ensuring the professional development of St. Lucia’s tourism industry workers, thus making this program an invaluable opportunity we feel fortunate to be able to have offered to our membership”.
The presentation of wheelchairs continued on 11th September 2019 at the Children Development and Guidance Centre (CDGC). This time in addition to a number of regular wheelchairs, 10 specially fitted tilting chairs with added braces were donated.
Ms. Donette Ismael, TEF Programme Manager and Lisle Chase, Matthew Render and Konrad Wagner from Rotary attended the function. This project would not have worked without SLHTA’s Tourism Enhancement Fund and its leadership, working with the Ministry of Health and Rotary on the project. Rotary said that they stand ready to repeat the exercise at any time.
The SLHTA TEF convened a meeting under the Chairmanship of Sanovnik Destang, Immediate Past President of the SLHTA. Committee members on the newly constituted committee include Ike Lauff of Mystique Royal St. Lucia Resort, Jonathan Allain of the Ministry of Commerce, SLHTA’s Tourism Enhancement Fund Programme Manager, Donette Ismael and Deputy Chair of the Linkages Committee, Noorani Azeez.
Key discussions focused on improving payments to farmers, consolidating transportation for small farmers interested in selling produce to the hotels, expansion of the committee to include manufacturers, expansion of the virtual agricultural clearing house, implications on a loan guarantee fund on the manufacturing sector and encouraging access to tourism markets by local furniture manufacturers. Exciting next steps also included the launch of the SLHTA / TEF’s Link Up programme which commences in October 2019 and allows small producers of fashion, arts, craft, agro processed items to share their offerings with visitors at hotels.
The SLHTA Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) hosted another successful Linkages in Tourism Trade show (LITT). The event which was held at the Finance Administrative Centre, Pointe Seraphine, Castries, which provided an avenue for participating companies to showcase a wide variety of locally made products and services.
The diversity in the display this year, kept to the SLHTA’s promise of expanding its linkages programme to include other sectors. The atmosphere at the event was a buzz of excitement as SLHTA members took in the showcase of locally grown mushrooms, local spirits, liquors, chocolates, sauces, crafts and the list go on.
“For me what sets this trade show apart from other trade shows I have participated in is how targeted it is. You get to interact with business persons within the hospitality sector,” said president of the St Lucia Network of Rural Women Producers, Robin Darrell.
“Every year LITT continues to surpass the expectations of participants and this year was no different. From networking opportunities and developing business relationships with established companies in the tourism industry, participating companies will continue to derive benefits long after the event, said TEF Programme Manager, Donette Ismael.
She went on to explain that apart from the showcase, participants will be featured in the SLHTA / TEF newsletter and website, and participate in other similar events which will be hosted throughout the year, one of which will be “LINK UP”. The aim is to continue building on the successes that has been achieved so far by linking tourism with all the various sectors.
Businesses and individuals wishing to obtain information about the SLHTA Linkages in Tourism Programme can call the SLHTA Tourism Enhancement Fund at (758) 453-1811 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Great meeting with Helen’s Daughters and Green Gold representatives Kiethlin Caroo and Aaron Afrifa to discuss collaboration with our Virtual Agricultural Clearing House (VACH). SLHTA stays the course to build stronger linkages between farmers and tourism. We are excited about the possibility of improved trade for our farmers with hotels via this partnership and the genesis of a Rural Women’s Academy.
The current food import bill of St. Lucia is valued at $350 million. Of this, it is estimated that $10-15 million dollars’ worth of this can be grown locally and bought by hotels at a lower price than when imported. Furthermore, with 1.1 million visitors to our shores in 2018 and one-third of all visitor expenditure spent on food, there is substantial market for locally grown crops.
The Green Gold team promises to leverage technology to fill in the gaps in the agricultural food tourism system to spur targeted agricultural supply by farmers using four components: Online Produce Marketplace, Farm Support, Distribution Centre and Delivery.
The Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) continues to invest in the young people of Saint Lucia through the recent injection of EC$35,000.00 into maritime training. Each sailing course, which has been successfully run for a number of years, provides an intensive training course for 10 unemployed youth from across the island where they are engaged in an intensive sailing, soft skills training and personal development program.
The Jus’ Sail youth sailing program continues to benefit from TEF financing due to the positive impact it has had on the lives of the young persons who have successfully completed the program over the last few years. The program has provided a number of employment opportunities for its graduates who have been able to succeed in the local maritime sector. The TEF’s commitment to this program is in keeping with one of the key mandates of the Fund which is human resource development. Supporting our youth and their development is one of the many positive outcomes of making a voluntary contribution or becoming a friend of the TEF.
The Tourism Enhancement Fund last year provided funding of EC$120,000.00 to the Rotary Club of Saint Lucia to facilitate the importation of wheelchairs to the island. This week marked an auspicious occasion as this venture between two private sector entities came to fruition, with the presentation of over 200 wheelchairs to be distributed island wide.
The wheelchairs will create greater independence for persons with disabilities by improving their mobility and enhancing their overall quality of life.
This project would not have been possible without the support of the establishments participating in the Tourism Enhancement Fund and the voluntary contribution from guests of US$2 per room night to the fund. This voluntary contribution enables the TEF to support projects of this magnitude. If you are interested in being part of this exciting initiative please donate US$2 for each night of your stay at Resorts here in Saint Lucia or become a partner/friend of the TEF. For more information contact Ms. Donette Ismael TEF Programme Manager at 758-453-1811.