NEW YORK (Dec. 29)-The recently elected government of St. Lucia has appointed a new minister of tourism, adding responsibility for heritage and creative industries to his portfolio.

The St. Lucia Labour Party government, which won last month’s general election, has chosen Lorne Theophilus, the member of parliament for the southern town of Choiseul, as the lead minister of the island’s bread-and-butter industry, replacing the tireless Allen Chastanet who served as tourism and civil aviation minister in the previous United Workers Party administration.

According to government sources, Theophilus-an attorney-has built a reputation of fighting hard to defend the rights of the average citizen and has volunteered on tourism projects managed by the St. Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB) in the past. He is the son of prominent businessman George Theophilus of Financial Investment and Consultancy Services, a well-known local financial firm.

“The St. Lucia Tourist Board looks forward to working with Minister Theophilus,” declared Louis Lewis, the island’s director of tourism. “This is the first time the tourism portfolio has been tagged along with heritage and creative industries, two sectors of the economy the new government says it wants to give added attention…and sees the tourism industry as that vital catalyst and gateway for achieving this goal. There is a natural synergy between these sectors.”

According to a Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) membership advisory, Chastanet, who is currently taking a break, has been appointed-in a voluntary capacity-regional vice president of the CHTA with responsibility for St. Lucia and its neighboring islands and will also assist in the CHTA advocacy programs. He previously served as second vice president of CHTA from 2004 to 2006 before joining the St. Lucian cabinet, after which he served as chairman of the public sector Caribbean Tourism Organization.

Meanwhile, St. Lucia accepted the Readers Choice Award for Best Caribbean Destination at the 2011 Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards Gala this month at the Plaza Hotel in New York. Other nominees included Aruba, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and St. Maarten.

Travel Weekly Readers Choice Awards go to nominees in about 60 categories that represent the creme de la creme of the travel industry. Nominees and winners are selected by Travel Weekly’s readers, a group of expert travel professionals, during two rounds of voting.