Carnival season means happy hoteliers with packed rooms in St Lucia this month
As carnival season began to unfold last week, July is proving quite the successful month for St Lucia's tourism industry and hotels are reaping the benefits after reporting packed rooms. The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority worked hard this year to promote the island's summer festival at a global level, a move that has been a resounding success with record-high occupational levels for this time of year.
Getting bigger and better every year, the St Lucia Carnival kicked off last week, coinciding with reports of high occupancy levels in hotels and kicking of days and nights of joyous celebrations and ongoing parties that will culminate on 18th July.
Hotels in St Lucia, especially the ones in the north, where the carnival is celebrated, are rubbing their hands this month after receiving a large number of guests and filling up close to full capacity. By 12th July many properties had already sold out and getting flights to St Lucia in time for carnival proved immensely challenging.
Praising the efforts that have gone into the promotion of this year's carnival, Roderick Cherry, Chief Executive Office of the Saint Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association said:
"This is fantastic news as the Carnival season is proving to be better than anticipated. Members of the SLHTA are commenting favourably on occupancy levels. Kudos to the organizers – ECSL and CDF – as this event continues to develop into something more magnificent annually."
Pre-carnival themed parties started from as early as 5th July this year, with official events kicking off on 12th July. But leading up to the carnival action this year was the Epic Wednesday opening on 16th May, two months prior, which gave way to special events like means hotels have been filling up earlier and as a result St Lucia recorded the highest ever number of foreign visitors for a May month.
Warming up to carnival season, a series of events have taken place in St Lucia over the past couple of months. May kicked off the summer party action with the 2018 Saint Lucia Jazz Festival, part of the Soleil Saint Lucia Summer Festival that ran from 7th to 13th May.
This year's St Lucia Jazz event proved far more successful than previous editions due to massive increase in budget over the last few years, going from a modest $3 million to $14 million in 2015. These cultural events are receiving a stronger bet from St Lucia's tourism authorities because they are also an effective tactics to attract more visitor numbers during low season, as revealed by Tourism Minister Hon. Dominic Fendee:
"We are getting more visibility because the media coverage has enhanced. The other thing about the Soleil Festival is that the Jazz Festival served another purpose-to fill the hotels during the slow season, and so, with Soleil, we had to take a look at where we were and the monies we were spending to ensure that our people are excited about the festival, and are excited to partake."
The St Lucia carnival will draw to a close on 18th July, with the famous two-day parade of the bands having taking over Gros Islet over the previous two days (16th and 17th July) where streets are flooded with costume-clad participants portraying different themes amid a flurry of sparkly beads and bright feathers. Soca music takes hold of everyone in one never-ending dancing reverie.
If you missed this year's St Lucia Carnival extravaganza, fret not, there's always next year's to look forward to. A word of advice though, be early booking your hotel as the record-breaking occupancy levels experienced this July makes it easy to predict a similar occurrence next year.
In the meantime there's the Roots and Soul Festival 2018 coming up at the end of August this year, so not all is lost. If you want to experience this new music festival and enjoy fresh reggae beats, conscious hip-hop jams and Afro-punk concerts (with masterclasses) you best get booking that late summer St Lucia holiday now!
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