St Lucia: MP for Castries South and Member of Cabinet and Deputy Prime Minister of Saint Lucia – Ernest Hilaire expressed joy in leading a delegation from St Lucia in EXPO 2020 Dubai.
Deputy Prime Minister stated, “This week was extraordinary. Like many Saint Lucians, I looked forward to the celebrations of our 43rd Independence. But this time, I would be leading a Saint Lucian delegation in Dubai at EXPO 2020, where we would celebrate our Independence Day as part of the EXPO celebrations.”
He further shared the brief of his visit to Expo 2020 as the Permanent Representative and participated as part of the assessment team. “Firstly, let me state a few things about Expo 2020. Expo is not a UWP or SLP ‘thing’. As it turns out, I was the Permanent Representative to the Bureau for International Expositions and participated in visits to proposed host cities as part of the assessment team. Saint Lucia voted for Dubai. The administration changed in 2016, and it was up to the UWP in Government to finalize plans for Saint Lucia’s participation,” Deputy PM Hilarie stated.
“The EXPO was supposed to be held in 2020, but because of the COVID pandemic, it was postponed from October 2021 to March 2022. Again, the administration changed in July 2021. Our approach was to review what was planned and to ensure that we fully utilized this opportunity to showcase Saint Lucia to the world. This required major changes to the proposed activities and plans proposed by the last administration. More on that later,” he said.
He further stated that the delegation hosted the ‘Saint Lucia Business Forum,’ which provided a chance to showcase the tourism products of the nation also allowed the presenters of the country to highlight the ongoing projects.
“Monday was a big day for us as we hosted Saint Lucia Business Forum. It was a chance for us to showcase our tourism product, highlight ongoing and proposed investment projects, manufacturing and export opportunities and outline our citizenship options and thinking on the future of the citizenship programme. From all feedback received, it was a very impressive day. The organization of the Investment Forum was first rated. I am hoping that the proceedings can be packaged and shown on local television to share with our own people’s perceptions held by others of Saint Lucia. It was humbling,” he stated.
He further notified about his meeting with Emirates Airlines to discuss the possibility to fly to St Lucia or other Caribbean nations.
He mentioned, “We also held a meeting with Emirates Airlines to discuss the possibility of flying to Saint Lucia and the Caribbean to complement our marketing in this region”.
He later said about his week-long visit. Deputy Prime Minister said, “Tuesday was Saint Lucia’s EXPO 2020 National Day, which coincided with our Independence Day and was another fantastic day. The delegation had the honour of meeting high-ranking officials of the United Arab Emirates Government and sharing words of solidarity, and express best wishes on behalf of the Prime Minister, Government and people of Saint Lucia. We were also required to present a short cultural presentation showcasing our culture and history. We also took part in a parade at the EXPO announcing our Independence Day. We also held Cooking and Fashion shows. The highlight of the day was the presentation of our cultural show in the evening, “Helen’s Songs”. From all accounts, it was a truly memorable and exciting display of who we are as a nation.”
He further said, “Wednesday was a travel day and a chance to reflect on the Dubai experience. Amidst all the noise and distraction, there was a significant outpouring of national pride and identity. I think we have set a clear strategic plan to open up new markets and possibilities, and the opportunity was fully utilized to do so. The door has been opened; the hard work now begins.”
“Thursday was a day of meetings in London discussing various interests in property development and the citizenship programme. Some exciting news and developments are ahead of us,” Hilaire stated.
“Friday morning was a continuation of meetings. I was honoured to be invited to the High Commission to attend the formal welcome for the new High Commissioner, Anthony B. Severin. He is a seasoned and highly skilled diplomat who will make Saint Lucia proud. Good luck, Your Excellency. The night ended in Hackney visiting some Saint Lucians who celebrated our Independence. After 9 days of eating different culinary options, Lucian’s food never tasted so good!” MP for Castries South said, adding, “Saturday was travel day once again. Getting back home never felt so good. As Derek Walcott wrote, This island is heaven – away from the dust blown blood of cities; See the curve of the bay, watch the straggling flower, pretty is The wing’d sound of trees, the sparse-powdered sky, when lit is The night..”
“After a number of days in Dubai and London, I am sure you can understand my feelings!” he concluded.