A Caribbean hotelier is calling for a comprehensive review of airlift within region.
Ralph Taylor, chairman of The Soco Hotel says the regional market is missing out on dual destination bookings from visitors due to the exorbitant cost of airline tickets and difficulties associated with travel.
The former president of the Caribbean Hotel Association was speaking Saturday afternoon at the University of West Indies Alumni (Cave Hill) Symposium entitled Taking The Region Forward: An Alumini Perspective.
He said travelling throughout the Caribbean is difficult and expensive for islanders and international visitors.
“We need to address not only airlift to the region but airlift within the region. There is the need for a comprehensive review of international airlift to the region and the consideration of a regional carrier in international markets,” Taylor said.
“There is a dire need for a regional carrier to operate at a competitive price to drive regional business and create international linkages at a price point and with realistic connections to be a force in the global arena. Competitive pricing would encourage tourist to take duel destination holidays, an opportunity that is largely lost at present due to the complexities of booking . . . There is a huge opportunity that is being lost because of the challenges that we have with regional travel.”
Taylor said the average airline ticket to travel to Barbados and an Eastern Caribbean state is between US$250 to $500 and 50 per cent of the airline cost is being sustained by regional governments, noting that this is dampening regional travel.
He noted that in 2017, 660,000 visitors came to Barbados but only 103,000 of those visitors were from other Caribbean islands.
“This has been a killer in regional travel and the international connections. This is a damper to regional travel when prices to Miami and New York [are] at a competitive price to buying a ticket to St Lucia. Governments should waive all taxes in regional travel in the interest of the big picture,” Taylor said.