SOUFRIERE, Saint Lucia (March 24, 2011) - Chocolate is sweetening the bonds linking tourism stakeholders in Saint Lucia.

The partnership between the manufacturing, agriculture and tourism sectors is even stronger now with the opening of the luxurious Hotel Chocolat, a boutique resort near Saint Lucia's charming old colonial capital, Soufrière.

Senator Allen Chastanet, Saint Lucia's Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation, welcomed plans by the British-owned operator to break ground on a new Chocolate Factory to be located conveniently, next door to the swish Hotel Chocolat. 

Its accommodations are dedicated to barefoot luxury in nature-drenched and relaxing surroundings, commanding awe-inspiring panoramic vistas a thousand feet above sea level.

"The creative combination of three of Saint Lucia's vital sectors is important for Saint Lucia and for Soufrière - home of a UNESCO World Heritage Site", said Senator Chastanet, who believes the project also helps promote environmental sustainability as well as community partnerships.

Director of Rabot Estate, Hotel Chocolat's Phil Buckley reported more than 100 farmers will benefit from the new chocolate factory, and his company is hopeful that the project will help revitalize the once-profitable cocoa industry on the island.

"Farm to table, roots to restaurants, agritourism, whatever you want to call it, it is clear that this new project is another example of our government's mission to integrate tourism and the agricultural sector as we help our farmers get back to business," proclaimed Ezechiel Joseph, Saint Lucia's Minister of Agriculture, Land, Fisheries and Forestry.

Tessa Mangal, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Consumer Affairs, agreed, adding that the manufacturing sector was alive and well in Saint Lucia. 

Minister Mangal predicted "Saint Lucian chocolate in the global marketplace will bolster the island's brand as well as inspire new manufacturing projects to fuel economic growth."

The new chocolate factory opens next year.