St. Lucia tourism riding high; new casino could do even more...Whistler changes
St. Lucia's tourism director was in town on Monday and we managed a few minutes over lunch.
"Canadian visits to St. Lucia are up 109 per cent" in the last year, Louis Lewis told me. "That's amazing at a time when many countries would be happy with a rise of nine per cent."
Yes, they would. Most of us would be happy with an increase of that size in our economic portfolios, too, but that's another story.
"We had a good winter, and summer outpaced winter for the first time," he said.
More flights - there are now four per day from Canada - have helped a lot. So has the boost given the country's website, stlucianow.ca, which earlier today was offering all-inclusive rooms for as little as $109 per night per person and was advertising fall deals of 60 per cent off.
As good as things are, Lewis said St. Lucia isn't standing still. A new casino north of Rodney Bay, on the northern part of the island, should open in December, the first casino on the island.
Casino City Times reports the casino will include 350 slot machines and 14 gaming tables and will be managed by Treasure Bay Corp. LLC of Biloxi, Mississippi. It's said to be about 15,000 square feet and will employ 300 full-time workers in St. Lucia.
I told Lewis about how I'd visited the country music bar in Castries, the Nashville Palace, when I was there and we chatted at length over lunch about his country's fascination with hurtin' tunes and how they don't like modern country music.
"There's a joke on the other islands that they can always tell who the St. Lucia workers are by turning off the Caribbean music at a club or bar at night and turning on a country-western song. If anyone dashes onto the floor for the country music, they're from St. Lucia."
Romance remains a huge part of the attraction of St. Lucia; not surprising when you see the beaches and forested highlands and the grand Pitons that dominate the skyline on the south end of the island.
Things are heating up, or , rather, cooling down nicely in Whistler, host (in part) of some pretty famous sporting events a few months back. The Olympics are firmly in the rear-view mirror, but the first FIBT World Cup events take place Nov 25-27 during Whistler's opening weekend, with bobsleigh and skeleton slated for the Whistler Sliding Centre. It will be great to see Canadian medallist Jon Montgomery in action, with or without a post-race beer on the main streets of town. For more information, check out the link.
Whistler/Blackcomb also has an Early Booking Offer, where guests can book by November 15, 2010 and receive the best deal of the season and a price guarantee. Lock in at the current rates, and if the price drops for the equivalent package during the season, they’ll match it. Families can save even more, as kids 12 and under stay, ski, rent, and receive airport transfers for FREE. Early booking packages are available from just $86CAD per person per night
Amber Turnau of Whistler/Blackcomb tells me they're "really looking at leveraging the awareness built up from the games (both internationally in Germany and Australia) and at home here in Canada."
Turnau says that based on a study conducted by Tourism Whistler in partnership with Tourism British Columbia, awareness of Whistler increased significantly in the key overseas markets of United Kingdom, Germany and Australia. The study measured awareness of Whistler before and after the 2010 Winter Games (November 2009, January 2010 and March 2010). Increases by market:
- United Kingdom - awareness increased from 32 per cent to 45 percent
- Germany - awareness increased from 19 per cent to 42 per cent
- Australia - awareness increased from 48 per cent to 62 per cent.
Guests this season can ski/ride where the Olympians raced on the Dave Murray Downhill and Women’s DH, she points out. Not me, but thanks anyway.
GOOGLE TV AND GOOGLE TRAVEL?
A fellow Star worker was just telling me how Google is going to be available on TV's, or some such. It probably is already and I just don't know it. I remarked to her that I also had heard Google was getting into the travel business, which kinda scares me in a way I can't even begin to explain.
We both agreed we're totally screwed with technology once our kids leave home, although I'm pretty sure I'll be able to get the toaster to work all right.
TRANSPORTATION WOES in TORONTO
So, last Friday I get off the subway at Lawrence Station, and for the second time in a few weeks, only one of the escalators at the north end - five flights worth - was working. And it was, for the second time in a few weeks, the DOWN escalator that hardly anyone uses at rush hour. My goodness, folks, is is THAT hard?
Then, yesterday, BOTH escalators at the north end were out of service in the evening. Today, I went in the south entrance and one of the four escalators wasn't working. Glad to see my hard-earned tax dollars are being well-spent, guys.
It's also been a strange few trips. On Monday morning, some poor fellow sat on the floor of my subway car and cried and repeatedly banged his head. Poor fellow. On the way home, some guy stopped a buddy and I and looked at our Blackberries and wondered if we worked for the Secret Service. Today, a young Anglo woman started hurling racial epithets at a young, black woman, who wasn't taking any lip and gave it right back to her until the TTC finally had to call the cops and hauled the Anglo woman away, thank goodness.
Phew. Of course, on Sunday I tried driving into work and got caught up in the Toronto Marathon madness. Yes, the road closures were in the paper but would it have hurt the city to tell drivers that the Gardiner ramps to Yonge and Bay Sts. would be closed BEFORE WE GOT THERE and then found out we had to go to SPADINA and then double back in city traffic, only to find a huge backup of cars trying to get off the eastbound Gardiner at Jarvis? Just a couple signs, guys? Honestly.