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'St Lucia needs to embrace more of link between tourism and agriculture' states head of Caribbean hotel chain

'St Lucia needs to embrace more of link between tourism and agriculture' states head of Caribbean hotel chain

Fri 16 Feb 2024


We spoke exclusively to Sanovnik Destang, the new President Elect of the Caribbean Hotel and Tourism Association (CHTA) and Executive Director of the family-owned Bay Gardens Resort hotel chain in St Lucia.

It’s clear what drives Sanovnik Destang, known in St Lucia as being a trailblazer in the tourism industry.

“Why do I do my job?” he said. “Defiance. I want to defy the odds of what people expect of a Caribbean hotelier. My mum Joyce Destang is the Managing Director, she has been the driving force behind our hotels.

“She is a Caribbean woman, she has basically broken every single glass ceiling. You are supposed to be born into money, she was not.

“I feel that I want to carry on her legacy and prove to people you can succeed regardless of your background and how you started.”

Sanovnik Destang. Pic: courtesy of Sanovnik Destang.

Mr Destang, also a former President of the SLHTA (St Lucia Hospitality and Tourism Association,) knows there is work to do in St Lucia to grow its economy through tourism. 

As part of this, he has recently forged links with our firm which has been operating an office in St Lucia since 2005. Brown&Co's aim is to collaborate more with some of the key business and tourism leaders in St Lucia in our bid to raise the profile of the island and attract more overseas property buyers and investors, as well as keep selling homes to local people in St Lucia.

Mr Destang said: “I think St Lucia has a lot more development to do. We need to look at other Caribbean islands which are more developed.

“St Lucia needs to embrace more of the link between tourism and agriculture. We import way too much and our farmers can’t find a way to sell, it’s a common issue.

"For example, lettuce; we use so much in our hotels for Caesar salads. Farmers can grow lettuce in St Lucia but they are reluctant because the government is not providing them with the greenhouses or the financial incentives meaning it’s difficult because they can’t combat disease in crops and they haven’t got the right machinery."

Currently many farmers in St Lucia haven't got the right technology to move forward or the frameworks to collaborate to form reliable supply chains.

He said: “There is good money to be made but we are importing way too much, we as a hotelier pay more than the supermarkets so farmers should produce and supply hotels rather than us importing the same produce at a higher cost. This is a big, missed opportunity.”

Charles Whitaker, our Managing Partner, first spearheaded operations in the Eastern Caribbean on behalf of the firm in 1997 with his work on the Barbados Physical Development Plan before opening the St Lucia office in 2005.

He said: “We think bringing investment and jobs to St Lucia is important. More job creation, investment and economic growth are needed which is why we are seeking to widen the market appeal of St Lucia.

"We also have a long background in advising and working with clients in farming and food production and with advances in production techniques, innovation and technology, we believe there is much more that can be done to form sustainable local supply chains in partnership with the hotel industry to displace imports and create value for the hotel and farming industries.”

St Lucia with its spectacular scenery and coastline. Pic: Graeme Taplin

Mr Destang added: “We want to be a destination where people come to for the full St Lucia experience. When you stay with us, we want to show we are integrated with the local community, community attractions, local farmers and fishermen.

“I suppose at times I have myself felt like an outsider; I came from a finance background. We do things very differently and we don't want to be forced into a mould of what tourism should be.”

You can contact Asnia Ste Marie, manager of our St Lucia office by emailing or contact her on +1 (758) 716 7133.

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