May 21, 2009



The time has come for a serious approach to creating an avenue for new ideas that can be converted into commercial reality. The simple cooler which was developed by a young student attending a school in a rural community attests to the fact that St. Lucians have innovative ideas that are marketable.

Innovation, research and development and all necessary strategies that denote progress need to be placed on the front burner and vehicles for expressing them be found. It is time to invoke the competitive spirit among our people. It is interesting to see when a group gets together to look at a project how ideas compete and the best options are exposed. We have brilliant scholars, outstanding entrepreneurs and professionals along with competent, successful individuals who have earned their badge of excellence and acquired the status of QBE (qualification by experience) to support the effort of the thinkers of this new age. I have discovered over the years that those persons who have been there, done that even when they would have failed have a story to tell and advice to give. There are some among us that one failure is enough for a life time. Guard against those persons. Look out for those persons who are always seeking to achieve success regardless of the odds against them. Simply put – those persons who will never take a knock out punch, they refuse to go down, they keep coming. Those are the persons you must seek out to be members of your master mind group.

I met a prominent talk show host at a popular gas station during this week and after extending courtesies, being his usual self he hastened to find out what new ideas I have to share to ease the squeeze. I told him I had nothing new apart from what I have been saying for the past twelve years. Here are the thoughts I have shared over the years and readers of this column will be able to attest to the facts.

St. Lucia has outstanding minds and the first task of any government should be to harness that resource and put it to work for the betterment of the entire nation.

It was made very clear for a number of years that Agriculture will have to give way to Services as the principal export earner. Tourism was identified as the new driver of the economy. Tourism is based on visitor arrivals to the island, by sea and air. The majority of visitors will be introduced primarily through the marketing programme managed by the tourist board; the others will be reached by past visitors, St. Lucians at home and abroad and by extension their relatives, friends and business associates. A major strategy in the whole promotional programme is to get media publicity and we see droves of foreign journalists visiting our shores. I feel that an equally strong relationship should be forged with the local media and experts in social networking on the internet.

A proposal was made by SLISBA regarding the appointment of Tourism & Investment Representatives around the world with strong St. Lucian participation at home. The document set out in detail an implementation plan. The implementation of the proposal would have boosted the visibility of St. Lucia as a tourist and investment destination. It is a numbers game when it comes to reaching people with information that seeks to make them take action especially in the tourism sector. I made a recent suggestion to promote St. Lucia through the network marketing system. Commissions are paid to tour operators who offer several destinations under one roof. Why not include a focused St. Lucia marketing approach where marketers will be promoting St. Lucia only. The plan will ease the demand for government’s contribution to the tourist board and most importantly fill our hotel rooms and increase visitor shopping, including patronage to entertainment centres and restaurants. The MLM approach to promoting tourism could be a stimulus plan that can involve everyone, 18 years and over.

I continue to beat the drum calling for a Ministry or Secretariat of Innovation and Technology. In this new age, the core activities of the future development of our nation should be centered on Innovation and Technology. I make yet another call for a conference on innovation and technology, not to talk but to bring potential projects to the table.

The private sector met with the public sector earlier this year to look at the economy, since then a number of initiatives were undertaken but there is no serious opening for the first time entrepreneur with a new project which has never been tested. Where is the venture capital bank/fund? The St. Lucia Development Bank promised to explore avenues for such funds. There is an urgent need for new ideas and projects.

We can begin by looking at our Caribbean neighbours’ programmes. Barbados has a lot to share with us. There was a time when we looked almost exclusively to extra regional sources to attract investment in industry and for tourist arrivals, ignoring the whole Caribbean region. However, over the years we have witnessed that Caribbean entrepreneurs have established strong companies which continue to make St. Lucians proud. Tourist arrivals from the region have increased and St. Lucia has emerged as the number one conference destination in the OECS. We hear that there are plans to target Brazil as a source for tourists and it is my hope that some in roads will begin to be made in Latin America. An opportunity is about to open up for residents who are fluent in Portuguese?

Keep the Faith; remember always God is in Charge, Dream Big and Expect Daily

Edward A. Harris
Freelance Journalist, Real Estate CyberSpace Specialist (RECS)
Websites: (ECREDMC)

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