In a tough year for property around the globe, property developers on the island of St Lucia are encouraged by reports of a significant growth in tourism in 2010 and a doubling of online searches for second homes in the Caribbean.
The latest report from the St Lucia Tourist Board (STLB) indicates that there has been ‘a significant increase in arrivals throughout the first half of 2010 bolstered by a 43 % increase from the United States over the same period last year'.
This comes at a time when there has been a doubling of interest in Caribbean property at several points over the year, outpacing many destinations in Western Europe, according to figures from property portal Rightmove. Figures show that in May 2010 the volume of searches was 177% higher for Caribbean property than in May 2009.
Developers at luxury marina development, The Landings, say that buyers are favouring more established destinations like St Lucia, at a time of economic uncertainty.
‘Buyers are reassured that St Lucia is a stable economy, is easily accessible with direct flights from the UK, and the island has not suffered from an oversupply of property, like other countries, that de-stabilises the market,' said Ollie Gobat, sales director of The Landings.
‘St Lucia will always be popular because of the exceptional lifestyle on offer and the fact that it's a safe place to invest in property,' he added.
The increase in visitors is partly due to an improvement in airlift to the island from the UK and US which, according to official statistics, has increased from 9,000 airline seats last year to 24,000 seats for 2010. British Airways increased their direct flights from Gatwick to St Lucia from three to five times per week at the end of 2009 and there have been a new service from New York with Jet Blue.
Another surprising reason for the increase is the airing of US TV reality show The Bachelor, which was filmed in St Lucia. ‘Before the airing of the reality television shows the average number of hits for the SLTB website was 5,000 daily, but that figure has risen to 68,000,' said Allen Chastanet, Minister of Tourism.
St Lucia, which is part of the Windward Islands chain in the West Indies, is characterised by a lush, tropical and naturally scenic landscape that remains unspoiled. Visitors to St Lucia consistently remark on the friendliness of the locals who genuinely welcome visitors and delight in telling them proudly about their island, tourism officials said.
The Landings, now in its third phase of construction, reckons it has one of the best locations on the island of St Lucia with panoramic views across the calm and picturesque Rodney Bay.
The ocean view is framed by Pigeon Island to the north, a national park where the English fought off the French fourteen times, and the rolling green hills of St Lucia to the south. On a clear day Martinique can also be seen to the north.
It is also the only freehold beachfront property available on the island. All other beachfront property is leased from the government whereas The Landings is built on reclaimed land, so is not subject to the same lease conditions and can therefore be sold as freehold.