Published On: Thu, Apr 18th, 2013

Bureaucracy, secrecy, and arrogance darkens St Lucia’s marketing efforts

Castries Saint LuciaDear Sir:

Saint Lucians are constantly fed with a daily dose of hype and propaganda. In recent days the people have been wondering if this is the trend that the formation of the National Broadcasting Network (NBN) is trying to cement, along with the one party state that the Saint Lucia Labour party administration seems to favour.

Meanwhile, this past week actor Matt Damon and his wife Luciana Barroso, renewed wedding vows and celebrated with a renowned guest list of celebrities at the exclusive 78-room, five-star Sugar Beach resort in Soufriere, Saint Lucia, inclusive of 24 hour private access to the beach and its surroundings for four days. How cool is that, when you can afford it!

These two events are matters at the heart of press freedom, information dissemination and freedom of movement, the use of the queen’s chain (Saint Lucian’s patrimony) security and privacy, and the marketing of Saint Lucia as a pristine destination and a World Heritage site. Including the many blunders committed, by the trusted government agencies such as the Saint Lucia Tourist Board (SLTB), the Ministry of Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries and the Soufriere Regional Development Agency, (SRDF).

The interesting point here is how all of these state run institutions left out the very people they depend on every election time and the fact that these people livelihoods depend on tourism and access to Saint Lucia’s patrimony. Only to wake up last week to be greeted by armed special service personnel on land and sea – with the news – no entry, access denied to the beach, land and surrounding waterways!

Some have suggested that’s what the smart people in government think is necessary – to keep the people in the dark; wondering what is happening in Saint Lucia and since when!

Are the people not required to know what is happening? Is Soufriere and Saint Lucia governed by elites with a culture of secrecy to return the people to a life of dependency and autocratic rule? Or is this just plain arrogance by the great doctor(s) that some are suggesting are now proving to be the enemy of workers, trade unions and by extension the people of Saint Lucia.

These trusted government agencies have by virtue of their own actions shown their disgrace and disrespect to the people of Saint Lucia to matters that affect their livelihoods; and has embarrassed the essence of the tourism product that millions of dollars is spent on a yearly basis to promote -- the people and their culture!

The immense silence by the government agencies to afford the simply courtesy of notification – or is it a matter of security and privacy. Again this may speak to the subject matter of inclusion by the people – as the most valuable asset of the tourism product -- to feel part and parcel of the tourism industry. Or was it a big time failure and a waste of marketing resources and money to keep the locals at a reasonable distance.

The use of armed special service personnel of the state to keep out citizens and visitors from the beach, the queen’s chain, and waterways within a World Heritage site is unacceptable and disturbing.

It is sad that visitors and the people of Saint Lucia had to succumb to this type of treatment over the past week by the administration of Dr Kenny Anthony, his enforcers and select agencies. Whereby a better medium could have been sought.

What this shows is that the agencies lack innovative thinking and creativity and have missed an ideal opportunity to showcase Saint Lucia in a manner not seen anywhere, with the presence of actor Matt Damon and his wife Luciana Barroso, George Clooney, Brad Pitt and his fiancée Angelina Jolie, film director Ben Affleck, Michael Douglas and his Oscar-winning wife Catherine Zeta-Jones and others by their very persona in the heart of the three wonders of the world --- the twin pitons, a drive-in volcano and Soufriere, a historic town with a rich and unique history and body of people ready to display their talent and ambiance to the world.

What a missed opportunity of a lifetime!

Hey, so what, nothing new -- someone replied! Surely the events of recent times in Saint Lucia demonstrate an impending disaster; with the making of a totalitarian style of governance and a bureaucracy of sloppy demeanour.

The tongue-tied nature of government MPs and the secrecy to bypass the people’s business is a crisis waiting to happen.

And it is about time that people in position of leadership and influence in Saint Lucia stand up and decry the injustice that is destroying the confidence of the people, by not looking after the interest of Saint Lucians.

At a time when people are looking for answers and working hard towards a better life for themselves and their family, they should not be faced with non responsive MPs, government bureaucracy and arrogance.

The feeling is that probably a sudden revolt is needed to wake up the sleepy and sloppy agencies in this country, to request responsibility, respect and accurate disclosure of information, in order to bring the situation under control.

To deliver the message that hiding, withholding information and the excuse for selective privacy is a breach of public trust and a lapse in judgment that this administration continuously demonstrates.

These latest episodes are no doubt a public display of the lack of concern by government to the people of Saint Lucia.

Ultimately, the MP for Soufriere, SLTB, the Ministry of Tourism, Heritage and Creative Industries and SRDF, must be held to account for the lapse of judgment, a lack of trust in the people of Saint Lucia, and the missed opportunity, to make the most of Saint Lucia’s marketing ability.

Opportunities lost may never be regained – Saint Lucians deserve answers.



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