SAINT LUCIA – The efficiency of Saint Lucia’s energy provider has jolted the country back into action according to the island’s Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation.
Saint Lucia’s electricity system has been restored as the country welcomes visitors back to the island this weekend. Only close to five percent of the island, in harder-to-reach areas, remains off the national grid.
Tourism Minister Senator Allen Chastanet showered praise on utilities company LUCELEC for energising the country so quickly after such a major storm. The rapid restoration of power, he added, helps all stakeholders to meet the humanitarian needs of fellow citizens and companies adversely affected by last weekend’s Hurricane Tomas.
Senator Allen Chastanet (file photo)
“The Government is working around the clock but there is no doubt that hard work, resolve and compassion of the Saint Lucian people is the key element in helping our country get back into peak form,” said Senator Chastanet. He noted that much work still needs to be done to rebuild roads and to bring much needed humanitarian relief to the country, especially the southern town of Soufrière which received power this week.
“Saint Lucia’s hotels and resorts are not only world-class in beauty and service; they are also resilient and many of them are ready to welcome visitors this weekend,” Chastanet declared.
In addition, many of Saint Lucia’s hotels are of real benefit to surrounding communities. Senator Chastanet noted that while government officials were working assiduously to restore water supply to the nation by this weekend, “some of our larger hotels have their own water desalination and purification systems and are able to supply water to guests – and to members of local communities.”
Minister of Communications and Works, Guy Joseph stated he too was impressed by how Saint Lucians had responded to the damage from the storm. “With the numbers of poles and wires that went down, it was amazing that within a couple of days, 80 percent of power had been restored,” he said.
Minister Joseph also stated that while significant infrastructural work was necessary to return Saint Lucia’s thoroughfares to pre-Tomas regularity, the Internet images of broken bridges and impassable roads needed updating. “Bridges have been restored, and by-passes have now been created so that motorists have options to travel between their destinations,” he said.
Director of Tourism Louis Lewis, who is attending World Travel Market in the United Kingdom, confirmed that Saint Lucia’s reputation in the marketplace remained “strong” and tour operators were busy preparing their British clients to return to the island. “Tourism is the economic engine of Saint Lucia, and with the negative impact of Hurricane Tomas on our agricultural sector, it is incredibly important that we speedily return to offering guests the legendary experiences for which Saint Lucia is known,” he said, while thanking all travel partners for their patience.
North American and European carriers, including JetBlue Airways, American Airlines and British Airways, return to the island this weekend. LIAT’s emergency air bridge between Hewanorra and George F.L. Charles airports will remain in place for another week.