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TTC Special. St Lucia: From China with love

China is a potential market for caribbean destinations. Photo: 123rf.com

By F. Martin

TTC Service.-The small Caribbean island of St. Lucia awaits a great message of love from China in response to a beautiful pearl that will give away to Chinese tourists.

The gift for the Chinese on vacation will be a $2.6 billion Pearl of the Caribbean development that will include entertainment, housing, recreation, a casino and a race track. St. Lucia’s government has signed an agreement to build the island’s first internationally targeted, integrated development project. According to the island press The Pearl will occupy a 700-acre site on the south end of the island. Plans include a casino, horse racetrack, resort and shopping mall complex, free trade zone, entertainment and leisure venues, and housing.

The project is designed to attract investment and tourism from China, Southeast Asia and Russia, as well as other countries where newly wealthy investors are seeking opportunities for their money. The St. Lucia Times News journal report that in the agreement participate several government agencies charged under the St. Lucia Citizenship by Investment Program, launched last January, and DSH Caribbean Star Limited. Construction is expected to begin in 2017.

St. Lucia is located in the eastern Caribbean, just west of Barbados, whose long history of horse racing has helped establish the sport as a staple form of entertainment in the area.

The project creators believe that the Chinese are among the biggest gamblers in the world, the journal added. “In addition to casinos, the horse racing industry is also thriving in China with The Telegraph reporting that races now attract about 1.4 million race goers each year in the region. Thus, horse racing is going from strength-to-strength in China and this is another area that the St. Lucia government is looking to capitalize on with the Pearl of the Caribbean’s proposed racetrack” the St Lucia Times said.

Casino operators all over the world are also constructing establishments that honor the Chinese culture. In December 2016, Las Vegas, U.S. opened the Lucky Dragon Casino and Hotel, which is a boutique-style casino and resort designed to mimic an authentic Asian gaming and cultural experience.

In the Caribbean, not only St Lucia have high hopes about the millions of Chinese tourists who travel the world. Jamaica is anticipating an increase in Chinese tourist numbers following a successful start to the year which saw a five percent increase in year-on-year arrivals from China between January and April 2016. In Cuba the tourism industry has been working hard to attract some of the 100 million Chinese tourists who take overseas trips each year. In Dominican Republic China’s Business Development representative said last month that Beijing has US$25 billion available to finance tourism infrastructure and other areas of the country.

Cruises, in particular, are a booming business. The number of Chinese cruise ship passengers more than tripled between 2012 and 2014 to 697,000, according to brokerage firm CLSA. That made China the world’s seventh biggest market, and CLSA says it has the potential to one day take the top spot.