Tourism Minister, Robert Tonge, has divulged the government’s plans to ameliorate the troublesome issue of air and sea access to Dominica.
Speaking at the annual general meeting of the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA), on Wednesday evening, Tonge described the recent introduction of the new ferry service, Val’ Ferry, on-island, as a “welcome development in increasing the links to the French islands” – namely Guadeloupe and Martinique.
The Minister stated that the government has partnered with InterCaribbean Airways and hopes to soon enter into agreements with several airlines for increased travel to and from Dominica.
“We have InterCaribbean [Airways], which has helped us to increase our access to the country. They initially started with three flights. They’ve gone up to five flights, and they’ve given us the assurance that once the need is there, they will further increase the number of flights to our country,” he exlplained. “The government is also concluding three major agreements with various airlines for increased options to and from Dominica—especially during the upcoming winter season. One of these initiatives will be to ensure that when the Norwegian Flights start from Canada and New York into Guadeloupe, that we can capitalize on that by having a flight that can take you to Dominica.”
Tonge also referenced the highly-anticipated international airport.
“The government has stated its clear intention to build a modern facility capable of accommodating direct flights to and from our major market sources,” he said.
The construction of an international airport has long been spoken about in Dominica.
In November 2013, during a visit to China, Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, signed a US$300-million deal with Chinese company ASCG with “reconstruction of an international airport” among projects to be undertaken under the agreement.
At a Dominica Labour Party (DLP) Rally, on May 5, 2014, Skerrit said that his government was actively pursuing several projects, including the construction of an international airport through the BOOT – Build, Own, Operate and Transfer – option, with a team of private developers from China.
During the presentation of the 2018-2019 budget, the Prime Minister noted that an international airport will help secure the island’s investment in tourism, and vowed that his DLP administration will construct an international airport in Dominica.
Skerrit said that US$5-million has been set aside per month for the construction of such a facility, and thus far, the Government has been able to set aside over EC$149 million.