Government is seeking to establish a direct air link between Barbados and Africa, especially West Africa, Prime Minister Mia Mottley has revealed.
Air links and other areas of collaboration were discussed today when Barbados hosted Ghana’s president Nana Akufo-Addo, who was wrapping up his Year of the Return tour of the Caribbean, as Ghana continues to reach out to the descendants of enslaved West Africans.
Mottley said that for too long Barbadians have missed out on the opportunities through potential collaboration with the continent, simply because of the difficulty in getting there.
And the Prime Minister has indicated that charter flights are being explored to kickstart the relationship.
Mottley told journalists: “We agreed that we would try to boost the awareness of Barbadians to travel to Ghana with respect of the Year of the Return this year and we will equally seek to encourage Ghanaians to come to our We Gathering next year.
“The facilitation, without prejudice to the air services agreement, would start to look at charters to get the market going.”
At a press conference at Ilaro Court following talks between ministers and the Ghanaian delegation, the Prime Minister said: “In the same way that Barbadians travel north to New York, to London or to Toronto, we can travel east to Lagos and other parts of Africa.
“It is hopefully part of the journey of self-discovery as well as economic enfranchisement that we want as a Government to carry Barbadians on.
“I am confident that this is a case of awareness and capacity. We don’t want to endure 20-hour travel, we want to get there in seven hours direct.”
The Ghanaian president backed the Prime Minister’s declaration, saying Ghanaians were enthusiastic about visiting the Caribbean but were often deterred by the lack of direct flights.
President Akufo-Addo said: A lot of Ghanaians … are interested in travelling to this part of the world but when we look at the difficulties in getting here, they are daunted.
“By the time it is over you are 20 hours waiting in the air and at airports, it is not exactly the way that you want to go on holiday.
“Ghanaians are very much aware that there are people in Barbados like us. I think that when the air travel is put in place, in a year or two, you would see how much interest there is from our part of the world.”
The West African leader revealed plans for an air link between Ghana and Guyana.