Recently St. Lucia had to rethink their approach to festivities and publicity – how one can help the other instead of continuing as they have in the past as if the two ideas have no common ground. The island has previously hosted the St. Lucia Jazz festival and used it as a tourism and marketing event, but they didn’t get nearly enough impact out of the money they spent to host the festival.
A new event is replacing the Jazz festival on the island’s social calendar – the St. Lucia Food and Rum Festival. According to Dominic Fedee, the Tourism Minister for St. Lucia, “We are historically a rum drinking people. I believe that rum gives our destination that platform to find expression and meaning in its authenticity, in its culture.”
Though some marketing happened at the jazz festival, it was under performing in that area and dropping further behind with each year. Fedee said they began to look at things as they were and if they could continue footing the bill to the tune of EC $14 million when the event just didn’t get the word out about tourism and the island’s possibilities as a holiday destination. So they combined their “Soleil Summer Festival” with the Rum and Food Festival to accomplish their publicity goals.
Fedee said, “The intention still remains the same, and it is within that effort and in keeping with that goal to drum up publicity for us as a tourism destination.” The new festival continues to showcase St Lucia’s attractions of sun, sand, and sea. But it will further emphasize the culture, the people, and the stories to be found in their corner of paradise. Some of these changes have come about because of the past experience Fedee had while working as a Public Relations manager for Sandals Resorts. So many events in the hotel sector were more about gathering people to mingle and didn’t showcase the people or the culture. And for hotels that might make sense, but for an island nation, not so much.
He proudly stated that “We really are a rum-producing people and historically we really are a rum drinking people. And rum is a very proud and main part of our heritage, and this festival will better refine and leverage the tremendous asset that exists in culture, in food, and in showcasing to the world our heritage.”
For those looking to bring publicity to their own neck of the woods, they might try following this example and discover the history and culture that is embedded in that area. Once that is found, building an event around it to showcase the benefits of travel to their community should be an island breeze.
About the Author: Ronn Torossian is CEO of 5WPR and one of America’s foremost PR entrepreneurs.