The Parliament of Saint Lucia voted earlier this month to borrow $100 million to finance a major Hewanorra International Airport redevelopment project. Construction is scheduled to start in early 2019 and finish by the end of 2020.
The plan will include the construction of a new terminal building that will be fitted with modern facilities, restaurants, shops and executive lounges. The old terminal will be converted to house the airport’s support services.
The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority expects the new airport will encourage airlines to introduce new routes to the island. According to Saint Lucia’s tourism minister Dominic Fedee, the airport has exhausted its current capacity.
“The redevelopment project is part of our government’s broader plan to expand the island’s room stock by 50 percent in the next eight years,” said Fedee. The island currently offers a little over 5,000 rooms across the country’s various hotels, villas, guest houses and apartments.
Saint Lucia will receive the $100 million loan from the Taiwanese government, which will also provide technical support for the project. Last year, the country instituted a $35 airport development charge that will be used to finance the Taiwanese loan.
Currently, Saint Lucia brings in 400,000 stayover visitors each year. The largest number, 45 percent, come from the United States, followed by the Caribbean at 20 percent, the United Kingdom at 18.5 percent and Canada at 10.5 percent. Tourism makes up 65 percent of the country’s economic activity.