Hard Work’s Paying Off For Verna Wilson

Working in the tourism industry is no walk in the park. It demands hard work, dedication, passion, and the ability to work as a team. But while the hours are long and the tasks demanding, there’s always the priceless satisfaction that one gets when the feedback from clients is positive. More than that, the industry offers upward mobility for those willing and able to grasp at the opportunities that often pop up.

Verna Wilson is living proof that hard work and dedication pay off in the end. The 46-year-old Vieux Fortian has been employed at Barefoot Holidays DMC St. Lucia for the past 18 years, managing the company’s department at Hewanorra International Airport.  

Barefoot Holidays DMC St. Lucia is a full-service boutique destination management company (DMC) offering customized options to incentive, meeting, special interest and corporate markets. Its professional team possesses an in-depth knowledge of the island and are specialists in destination consultancy, customized incentive programme creation and delivery, conference and meeting planning. Barefoot Holidays DMC St. Lucia believes in a boutique environment, where attention is paid in detail, adding the flair and elegance required to ensure that your event is enjoyable and memorable.

“At Hewanorra International Airport, we organize the transfers ahead of our clients getting off or boarding their flights, and also welcome them with a friendly smile,” Wilson said. “Our task is really about facilitating their travel in a seamless way.”

Prior to working with Barefoot Holidays DMC St. Lucia, Wilson’s first job in the tourism sector was working with Southern Taxi Association in Vieux Fort as a dispatcher for about three years. It was her first job in the tourism sector, but also the gateway to a major career move.

“While working as a dispatcher with Southern Taxi Association, we got to interact with representatives from the other tour companies,” Wilson explained. “Quite often, we would be asked by these companies to assist their clients whenever clients were coming into Saint Lucia and the reps were unable to make it to work. When a vacancy became available at Barefoot Holidays DMC St. Lucia, I was offered the position, and took it.”

Prior to getting into the workforce, Wilson attended the Junior Secondary School in Vieux Fort, spending three years there before spending her final two years at Vieux Fort Comprehensive Secondary School. After leaving secondary school, she worked as a pre-school teacher before getting the job as a dispatcher. She believes that working in the tourism sector is her true calling. 

“At school, I never thought about working in the tourism industry,” she said. “All I thought about was getting any job when I left school. So, looking back, it’s not like I chose the tourism industry; it’s more like the tourism industry chose me.”  

Among the challenges faced on the job, Wilson said, is the constant need to be up-to-date on how the industry operates, and having a great knowledge of how each country’s system works. Because of the changing policies related to COVID-19, for example, she said the need to be able to explain to clients what the travel requirements are becomes very crucial. Nevertheless, she believes the journey thus far has left an indelibly pleasant impression on her.  

“The journey has been an amazing one. You get to interact with different people and have a new experience every day. You also make new friends and learn new languages,” Wilson stated.

Speaking on the tourism sector’s important role in the economy, she said: “The tourism sector is very good in terms of helping families and the general economy. There are opportunities for advancement. The industry has definitely been changed by COVID-19, but people should never stop persevering. We must always try to make the best of every bad situation.”

Wilson is big on volunteerism and dedicates much of her spare time to worthy causes. In fact, for the past three decades, she has been a Saint Lucia Red Cross volunteer, and now has responsibility for the southern branch of the Saint Lucia Red Cross. Paying it forward, she says, is a great part of her self-development.

Over the years, Barefoot Holidays DMC St. Lucia has won many regional and global accolades for its excellent and efficient service. Wilson credits the achievements to the dedicated team, adding that great leadership is also an important factor to success. 

“Our Barefoot Holidays DMC St. Lucia team is unstoppable,” Wilson noted. “With our CEO Erwin Louisy at the top, we just continue to move forward. We work as a team, no matter the situation or the time of day, and our CEO supports us tremendously. So these awards are the result of the hard work by our team.” 


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