The Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA) has suggested that the government’s recent decision to invest in LIAT can benefit the country if necessary steps are taken.
But it is also expressing concern that the move could derail ongoing plans to encourage other smaller airlines to service the Dominica route.
Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit announced recently that the island was investing $8 million in LIAT.
According to the DHTA, that decision “has the potential to address several of the current inefficiencies in our air access”.
However it says that this will depend on whether this investment gives Dominica legitimate influence in the decision making process within LIAT.
The association dubs LIAT an essential partner in the tourism sector, pointing out that in 2011 LIAT passengers totalled 71 per cent of all air access arrivals and almost 47% of total arrivals.
It expects the regional airline’s operation in Dominica will become even more essential, “with the upcoming withdrawal of American Eagle”.
“Therefore, this partnership must seek to address the primary constraint of same day access from our major hubs connecting us to North America and Europe,” the DHTA states in its release.
It also cautions “that there is a clear need to address the shortcomings of our air access in order for this partnership to ensure a return on the investment”.
The hoteliers also point to proposed “cost-effective measures, as well as utilization of strategic partnerships working towards becoming a fueling stop for LIAT, which would further strengthen and decentralize its support system”.
In their view, Dominica could be positioned to benefit from and offer additional products and services that could increase revenue and create employment opportunities.
On the minus side of the equation, the DHTA cites efforts being made by the Discover Dominica Authority to develop an Access Strategy Plan.
The association says it is concerned that any investment in LIAT will marginalize the search for other small regional airlines to service the growing demands of Dominica.
“The proposed Access Plan makes it clear that we must look to other partners to meet international banks of flights at our regional airports. It has never been beneficial to consumers to have monopolies in the region, this encourages high fares and inferior service, two things the tourism industry can ill afford,” the DHTA says.
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