Monday, 16 June 2014


Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

And in St Lucia, statutory corporations are really not accountable to anyone. They have no stated targets, apply no credible means of measuring performance and at the end of the day, they answer to nothing but political whims of their own choosing.

But that was a little serious. And you were promised at least one joke about the St Lucia Tourist Board.

Ever hear the one about how last year, Louis Lewis and a whole crew of Tourist Board directors and executives spent about US$18,000 each traveling to Brazil to promote St Lucia with materials that were printed in Spanish?

It’s like they thought, “Portuguese, Spanish, what’s the difference, right?”

By the way, a five year old who watches too much TV knows the difference between Spanish and Portuguese. But to be fair, look at Louis Lewis and his deputy Tracy Warner-Arnold. Don’t they look like big, cuddly, dangerous, megalomaniacal three-year-olds to you?

And even though no one sees any hope of short term tourism prospects coming out of Brazil. Lewis wanted to go back as soon as possible in order to improve on his Spanish.

Okay, okay, that wasn’t funny. It was just disturbing. Ok. Try this one.

The Tourist Board set up international offices in New York so that the Tourist Board heads in St Lucia don’t have to be flying out of the island every other week. Yet, when St Lucia decided they weren’t getting a fair shake at the World Travel Market and to bringing the marketing to St Lucia Week, the same crew that spent 18 grand a piece in Brazil packed their bags and headed off to St Lucia Week.

What did they do? Who knows?

What? That wasn’t funny either? Okaaay…

Ever hear the one about how Louis Lewis used to do a comedy routine about Kenny’s budget meetings while Flambeau was in power but once Labour came back, it was Allen who had Lewis’ clown paint all over his face?

“He’s not a partisan,” his closest friends say. “He’s a party of one.”

Okay, I admit that last one wasn’t even a joke. That was a naked accusation of self-serving degeneracy coming from a close friend. Not cool, dude. Not cool.

Okay, you ever hear the one that says, “Tourist Board is not a workplace or an agency. Tourist Board is a lifestyle. Tourist Board is an enclave that preserves the historical and cultural privileges of a shabine elite who have traditionally enjoyed all the benefits of hard work and creativity without having to drive a stroke of actual work for their entire life. It’s not about marketing, it’s about glitz. It’s not about promotions. It’s about events.”

Why no one tries to promote themselves by changing things for the better is answered very simply: “The house slaves like it that way. The field slaves, they’re just too afraid to do anything.”

Ha ha? No haha?

How about the one where Lorne Theophilus tried to shake up the board of directors in his capacity and instead got himself shook up by Kenny Anthony in his capacity as shaker-upper-in-chief? You didn’t hear that one?

Okay, here’s the big joke.

Tourist Board and BET were in bed together on the Jazz Festival for decades before BET got a shake up of its own. Next thing you know, BET Jazz doesn’t even exist anymore. So apparently, BET had nothing to do with Jazz for three years while Allen Chastanet was minister. But somehow, BET managed to get itself back in jazz, billing St Lucia millions a year to do things that Lucians could do for themselves.

Now why would Lucians ask Paxton Baker and BET to book Maxwell for them for US$350,000 when Maxwell market value is only US$50,000 a gig? Why would they use Baker to book Akon last year for half a million when Akon costs less than half that? Why would the Tourist Board take the more expensive option for the same exact product?

What’s that you say?

That’s not a joke?

It’s true. There is something seriously unfunny going on between the top staff of the St Lucia Tourist Board and the Paxton Baker end of BET. It’s costing St Lucia millions a year. There is no good reason for continuing the relationship with BET except, perhaps, if there is something underhanded going on.

The St Lucia Tourist Board will not answer these questions however. They don’t have to. They don’t answer to anyone. Not even to the minister of tourism,  who found out the hard way that absolute power has corrupted the Tourist Board absolutely.

And until they are made answerable and accountable, just like everyone else in a true democracy, they will continue to use BET and Baker to bill waaay too much for Jazz artists,  and continuing their jet-setting lifestyle at the St Lucian taxpayers expense whether or not there is anything to show for it.



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