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St. Lucia supports cultural and geotourism goals

Bevan Springer | 2/16/2012, 4:44 p.m.
Paradise Island, Bahamas (Jan. 26, 2012)-St. Lucia's new minister of tourism, heritage and creative industries...
St. Lucia supports cultural and geotourism goals

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Paradise Island, Bahamas (Jan. 26, 2012)-St. Lucia's new minister of tourism, heritage and creative industries supports calls for strengthening the region's marketing and promotion of its history and heritage to stay competitive in the world market.

Speaking ahead of Caribbean Marketplace, which was held this week at Paradise Island in the Bahamas, Minister Lorne Theophilus asserted, "We can no longer rely solely on our physical attributes when marketing the region. We must pay attention to our past, our patrimony and our people and promote these integral components of our identity to potential visitors.

"Cultural tourism, heritage tourism and geotourism each helps to promote our essence and our identity, and these tourism subsets create tangible opportunities for businesses as well as artists, entertainers and community contractors," added Theophilus.

Alec Sanguinetti, director general of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA), in an article in the Nassau Guardian, proposed "the cultural nuances which make destinations unique have to take center stage."

Sanguinetti contended: "Travelers today are looking for an experience. The beach is there. The people and the hospitality are there. We need to keep building on our attractions and culture and not let our history disappear."

According to the National Geographic Society, which developed the concept and coined the term, "geotourism" is defined as tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place-its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and the well-being of its residents.

Geotourism incorporates the concept of sustainable tourism-that destinations should remain unspoiled for future generations-while allowing for ways to protect a place's character. Geotourism also takes a principle from its ecotourism cousin-that tourism revenue should promote conservation-and extends it to include culture and history, that is, all of the distinctive assets of a place.

Theophilus led St. Lucia's delegation to the CHTA's Caribbean Marketplace this week and was accompanied by Director of Tourism Louis Lewis; Vice President of Sales and Marketing Nerdin St. Rose; Jean-Marc Flambert, director of marketing, U.K. and Europe; and North America sales executive Lorine St. Jules.

Held at the Atlantis resort Jan. 22 to 24, Caribbean Marketplace offered wholesalers and tour operators the opportunity to meet with hoteliers and attractions and destination officials to plan and prepare packages to accommodate potential vacationers this year.