Officials are eager to see the launch of a passenger ferry service in the Caribbean, which they say has the potential to reduce the cost of intra-regional travel.
Executive member of the Grenada Association of Barbados Conrad Mason also believes that such a development would also encourage more Caribbean nationals to travel within the region.
“Very often you hear comments when you promote Grenada, that it is cheaper to travel to Miami than it is to Grenada. So clearly travel is important and cheaper travel is important,” he said, while harking back to the days of the Federal Palm and Federal Maple when it was common practice for West Indians to travel from one island to another.
He stressed the importance of intra-regional travel to the region’s tourism and overall development.
Just last month, there were reports that the long-awaited passenger ferry service linking some of the islands in the Caribbean could become a reality by year-end.
Caribbean Ferry Service, a three-year-old company registered in Barbados, was said to be in the process of finalizing paperwork to operate two vessels, The Dream Jet Express and The Opal Jet Express, for travel and cargo through the region. The company’s Chief Executive Officer Randy Connor was quoted in the press here as saying that the service would be initially accessible to travellers in Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines and St Lucia and that the vessels would have two homeports: St Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados, which is also the company’s headquarters.
However, while agreeing that a passenger ferry service was a viable option that would help to increase travel within the region, Chief Executive Officer of the Grenada Tourism Authority (GTA) Rudy Grant today declined to go into detail on the planned ferry service, except to say that he believed “it is a mode of transportation that will become a reality”.
“I do know of persons looking at projects which involve the ferry service and I think that would be a good thing for us to have. It would allow for greater movement of people in the region. It would be another transportation option and it would provide some form of competition as well as it relates to air transportation,” said Grant, who was addressing a media conference at Sandals Barbados where he announced a major This is the Life tourism promotion, in which Grenada is seeking to get more visitors from Barbados.
“We certainly support other transportation options and we certainly look forward with enthusiasm to ferry services coming. Of course the ferry service requires collaboration with the varying countries and with their port authorities as well, but I do believe . . . that ferry service can provide an additional option of transportation and can help us, certainly in Grenada as well as other countries in the region to enhance and to see growth within our tourism industry,” added Grant.