“This is more than a business union: It is a coming together of the people.”
That was the message sounded by officials from both Martinique and St Lucia. Last Friday marked the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Rodney Bay Marina and Le Marin in Martinque for a twinning arrangement that is expected to benefit both facilities.
General Manager of Rodney Bay Marina, Cuthbert Didier, described the union of the two ports as more than symbolic. He said it marks the formulating of lifelong relationships between the two countries. Didier added there are many similarities between the two countries.
“ St Lucia and Martinique have a lot of land-based and nautical history. Both countries were fought for by the French and English,” said Didier.
Didier informed the small gathering that the initiative would benefit the economy of St Lucia. “Every vessel that leaves Martinique sailing south, ends up in the Grenadines and to do that they must pass through the waters of St Lucia. It makes economic sense for the operators of Rodney Bay Marina to join with a port that has grown over the last eight years,” said Didier.
He added, “Le Marin was a small port in the south of Martinique until the French government invested heavily in its development. Today Le Marin has over 700 boats and has one of the most sophisticated navigational systems in this part of the world. We are elated to be co-laborers with the French administration.”
Didier said with the union, the two ports have the potential to hold over 1,400 boats. He said the twinning of the ports would create an avenue where young people from both countries can learn each other’s language. This, he said, will add depth to the tourism industry of both countries.
For his part Minister of Tourism Philip J Pierre said the government has made Marina studies a priority. “Students who are interested in Marina studies will be able to be recipients of scholarships, if available. They will also be able to have access to grants and loans if available.”
Minister Jean reported there was an overall increase in the yachting industry in St Lucia last year and this latest venture would further aid in the development of the yachting industry.
Managing Director of the Diversity College, Pierre Cuignet said Martinique is delighted to work with St Lucia. He called the twinning of the ports a breakthrough in tourism industry of both countries. “We will be able to foster friendship as we share our language and culture,” said Cuignet.