The redevelopment of Saint Lucia’s international airport will get underway soon following parliamentary approval.
The parliament of Saint Lucia voted to borrow US$100 million for the Hewanorra International Airport redevelopment project earlier this month.
The plan, which is expected to be unveiled in the coming days, will include the construction of a new terminal building equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, restaurants, shops and executive lounges, and the conversion of the old terminal to accommodate fixed-based operators.
The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority offered its support to the development as it will provide an added incentive for airlines to open new routes to the destination.
Saint Lucia tourism minister, Dominic Fedee, noted: “We have exhausted the current capacity of the Hewanorra International Airport, and the redevelopment project is part of our government’s broader plan to expand the island’s room stock by 50 per cent in the next eight years.”
Currently, Saint Lucia has a room stock of just over 5,000 rooms spread across large and small hotels, villas, guest houses and apartments.
Acting chief executive of the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority, Tiffany Howard, added: “This is a welcome development and great news for the tourism industry.
“The SLTA continues to negotiate for more airlift into the island and having a new, modern airport to leverage with airline partners is a huge asset.”
At present, Saint Lucia welcomes close to 400,000 stayover visitors every year, with the largest number coming from the US market (45 per cent), followed by the Caribbean (20 per cent), the UK (18.5 per cent) and Canada (10.5 per cent).
Tourism accounts for 65 per cent of the island’s economic activity.
Last year the government instituted a US $35 airport development charge on each arrival to finance the US$100 million loan from the Taiwanese government.
The Taiwanese are also providing technical support on the project.
Construction of the new airport is slated to begin early in 2019 with the goal of having the facility fully operational by the end of 2020.