From Bevan Springer
New York Amsterdam News

BROOKLYN, New York (September 30, 2010) - Saint Lucia's citizens abroad are critically important to the development of the island nation, and its government is not going to overlook them.

pm_stephenson_kingThat was the assurance Prime Minister Stephenson King gave to nationals over the weekend when he addressed them at Brooklyn's Saint Lucia House, where he pledged both political and financial commitments to working closer with Saint Lucians across the Diaspora.

"Saint Lucia has countless human and natural resources which combine to make it a gem in the Caribbean, but one of our country's most valuable but often unheralded resources lies abroad - overseas Saint Lucians," said Prime Minister King. "We always count on them and we should do more to count them into our tourism and development plans and hopes for the future."

Pledging EC$300,000 (US$111,000) to the development and upkeep of the new Saint Lucia House, Prime Minister King told a packed audience that he was proud to see nationals of all walks of life under one roof to counsel and guide each other while preserving Saint Lucia's culture abroad.

Brooklyn Assemblyman Nick Perry also pledged US$100,000 in government funds to assist the house with capital improvements.

"We are going to build on the success of this summer's homecoming celebrations," said Senator Allen Chastanet, Saint Lucia's Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation who underscored the commitment of the Government and the Saint Lucia Tourist Board to working with nationals abroad. "We are committed to a bigger and better homecoming next year, and efforts are already under way to capitalize on the momentum that has been created," he added.

The Government of Saint Lucia has committed a great deal of energy and resources into the reintegration of Saint Lucians living overseas in Saint Lucia. Saint Lucian Homecoming 2010, held this past summer, gave Saint Lucians a chance to form partnerships with their brothers and sisters who live overseas.

It was also an opportunity to thank all Saint Lucians, wherever they live overseas or at home, for the ways in which they have helped make their country a better place. It also encouraged those living overseas to invest their resources, skills and time in strengthening communities at home and abroad.

Bevan Springer, a New York Amsterdam News columnist who writes frequently on travel and tourism issues as well as the Caribbean Diaspora, is the President of the New Jersey-headquartered Marketplace Excellence, Inc. - a full service, integrated marketing agency committed to excellence in the fields of public relations, marketing and media coaching. He also produces the Caribbean Media Exchange on Sustainable Tourism - CMEx.