Sandals Send Hundreds Home
By Micah George
The economic depression sweeping the world today continues to extend its fingers into Saint Lucia’s largest foreign earner – tourism, causing many Saint Lucians to lose their jobs as a result.
Hotel workers from the region’s largest hotel chain, Sandals Resort International, were of last Friday being sent home, the reason being a decline in tourist bookings.
The Sandals Resorts International, which operates three all-inclusive hotels in Saint Lucia, says it will be sending home about 200 workers in Saint Lucia, with the announcement that it regrets the move, which had to be made because of a decline in tourist bookings.
With experts in the industry predicting a gloomy period for Saint Lucia come next year, local hoteliers have banded together seeking government assistance in what is being called a bailout.
Hoteliers want government to take another look at the taxes and the electricity they pay to see how they can be assisted.
Although no serious effort has been made to date regarding a hotelier/government round table discussion, where hoteliers would have to put all their cards on the table should they want a bailout from government and the public, leading experts in the industry say even such a bailout may not solve the looming problem facing the tourism industry.
Saint Lucia meanwhile is not the only Caribbean country the Sandals franchise is swiping with its job cutting knife.
The company says it would be sending home 285 workers from Jamaica and 150 in the Bahamas.
The company in a statement said that “the duration of this global economic downturn is so far uncertain and the coming tourism season is going to be a really tough one for the industry. However, we are confident that given the strength of our brand and our ongoing and escalated efforts in the marketplace, we will be around to see a strong recovery in the travel and vacation market.”