As part of our coverage of the 30th annual Caribbean Travel Marketplace, Travel Agent sat down with recently-appointed Lorne Theophilus, St. Lucia's new tourism minister and discussed everything from the pressure of replacing the immensely popular Allen Chastanet to increasing entertainment along the vibrant Rodney Bay district.
"I'm very fortunate to replace someone like Allen, someone who could give me valuable advice," he says. "A lot of my plans will be to continue what he started in St. Lucia, to build upon everything he put in place and to carry those plans forward."
Among those plans is a complete revitalization of the destination's Rodney Bay area, which Travel Agent recently named one of its best nightlife destinations in all of the Caribbean. Theophilus says the plan calls for a boost in live entertainment along the Rodney Bay strip. He didn't disclose the amount of investment into the area, but did say the plan is still a few years away.
"We want to take Rodney Bay to the next level," he says. "We want this to be a New Orleans-type atmosphere as far as live entertainment goes. It is a very popular area of the destination, but we know we can take it to the next level. Entertainment is the main focus here."
Theophilus also noted that he plans to keep aggresively pursuing new airlines and routes to the destination. He told Travel Agent that he is still in discussions with Continental Airlines about adding a direct flight from New Jersey, something that Tourism Director Louis E. Lewis first told Travel Agent in 2011.
"We remain in discussions with Continental, but we also haven't ignored the friendships we built with airlines like American (Airlines)," he says.
Theophilus was appointed in December of last year following elections and a change of party rule. A prominent attorney, he succeeds Chastanet, who is expected to stay involved with St. Lucia tourism.
"I'm very fortunate to have followed someone like Allen, especially since I did not come from a tourism background," he says. "Everything he did will not be ignored. We are going to continue all of the great things he did for St. Lucia."
Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for more updates from our ongoing coverage of the Caribbean Travel Marketplace.