Caribbean nationals represent the third largest tourism market for Barbados, but they struggle to get here and Prime Minister Freundel Stuart has joined others in the region in seeing the funny side of travel with LIAT.
Stuart said people from the Caribbean rightfully feature significantly in Barbados’ tourist arrival numbers because they live almost literally next door.
But he added: “Well, I shouldn’t say that because sometimes it is more difficult for them to get here than for people to get from the United States here.”
“We still have to rely on Leeward Islands Air Transport to ferry people around, and I’m sure that most of you know that the vagaries of that experience have led people in the Caribbean to interpret LIAT not as Leeward Islands Air Transport, but as Leave Island Any Time.”
Nonetheless, he noted, Caribbean people who wanted to reach the island are making the effort.
“Let’s just say that the passion to get here is sufficiently strong that they would put themselves to any kind of trouble to get to Barbados, and therefore we thank them most heartily for the support they continue to give to our economy,” Stuart said.
He acknowledged that the challenge surrounding regional air transportation “is one with which we have grappled over the years and we have not got it resolved as yet”.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) market is number three for Barbados’ tourism after the United Kingdom and the United States.