Bring Caribbean islanders living abroad closer to the center of our plans, urged a St. Lucian businesswoman.
Eroline Lamontagne, a regional hotelier and entrepreneur, has renewed calls on the Caribbean's public and private sector leaders to get behind the diaspora to help move the region forward.
Lamontagne, proprietor of the Fond Doux Holiday Plantation resort in the charming old colonial St. Lucian town of Soufrière, believes the region's approach towards leveraging the intellectual resources and financial capital of the diaspora has been weak.
Rather than treating Caribbean peoples living overseas as an afterthought, she asserted, "diasporic relations must be central to our development strategy."
Speaking on the occasion of Saint Lucia's 33rd Independence anniversary last month, the successful entrepreneur pointed to remittances, travel, investment and philanthropy as four areas in which members of the region's expatriate community contribute the greatest.
She advocated a more deliberate approach to harness the goodwill and skills of the diaspora.
"We must formalize our ties for their impact to be even better felt and their contributions to be better appreciated," she added.
Fond Doux recently threw its support behind the Saint Lucia House Foundation's gala in Brooklyn which culminated New York activities celebrating St. Lucia's independence from Great Britain.
"The Saint Lucia House Foundation is quite pleased with the outpouring of support it received during this year's activities in New York to mark our beloved nation's 33rd anniversary of independence," said Jeremiah Hyacinth, the Foundation's New York-based public relations officer. He thanked patrons, sponsors and the island's external affairs minister, Alva Baptiste, for making the activities a success.