Tourism officials still working to improve air access post Erika

Tourism Minister, Robert Tonge
Tourism Minister, Robert Tonge

Tourism officials are still working to improve air access to Dominica, after the passage of Tropical Storm Erika caused a “significant reduction” in the number of passengers arriving by air, Tourism Minister, Robert Tonge, has reported.

Tonge hinted in a radio interview earlier this week that regional airline, LIAT, was responsible for the decrease.

“We’ve had many challenges with regards to air access After Tropical Storm Erika, unfortunately, I’m not sure if LIAT took that as an opportunity, but at that point they downgraded the number of aircraft that they had… and obviously, everybody throughout the Caribbean suffered because of that,” he said. “Prior to Tropical Storm Erika, we had 76 flights coming into Dominica, which came up 6,031 seats, and then, after Tropical Storm Erika, as of March 2016… instead of 76 flights, we only had 46 flights, and 4,654 seats.”

Tonge noted that the number of flights and passengers coming into Dominica increased as a result of a meeting between Dominican tourism officials and a team from the regional airline, on May 10, 2016. The meeting followed criticism by Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, over what he referred to Dominica’s poor treatment by LIAT and in which he underscored the airline’s sub-par service to the country.

“As of June 1, we have 89 flights, and 7,261 seats, so that’s an increase of about 17%, or 20% in terms of seats, as compared to before Tropical Storm Erika,” Tonge pointed out.

However, he said that the government is still “not satisfied” with the figures, and will “continue to move, and to work with as many different potential airlines to come into Dominica, so that when a person wants to come to Dominica, it will be a lot easier for them to come to Dominica.”

He named Dominica as “one of the significant profitable routes for LIAT.”

Meanwhile, the tourism minister revealed that tourism officials are working to first raise awareness of Dominica’s existence, before marketing the destination.

“One of our critical roles is to increase awareness of Dominica,” he stated. “Before you can actually begin to market and tell someone to come to Dominica, you have to try to make them be aware of Dominica. So every so often, they’re going to see those stories out there, and say ‘hey, this is a beautiful country. Then, we begin to market.”

This, he said, will complement recent improvements in air access to the island.

$8.5-million was allocated for marketing Dominica in the 2016/2017 National Budget, to facilitate implementation of the much-touted Tourism Master Plan.

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  1. STAR
    August 27, 2016

    what a joke… before erica it was just as bad.. dont look for scape goat.. build a damn good airport that can accomodate big jets and large airliners… liat is a joke and yall in the tourism sector is a bigger joke .. sad that tourism is the main industry and we dont hav ports and airports to facilitate no kind of traffic… did these men go to school.. dont they know that to attract visitors and any kind of income from this industry they have to make accomodations… 1 boat can barley dock on the falling terminal in roseau… d oda harbor is just as bad… look at the miserable airport… yall are big jokers i tell you.. hotels will remain empty. craft sellers will earn nothing until the good day that you all get this right

  2. Paul Alexander
    August 26, 2016

    Those in authority know what they are doing! All of you should hush and let them do it! I have complete faith in our government and it’s ministers who will do whatever it takes to better our country.


    ~greetings from the VI

  3. Anthony P. Isamel
    August 25, 2016

    Based on the figures presented by the government, Dominica would see a little more than 10,000 visitors by air per calendar year. And this is a country that talks about tourism. Theses ministers and the entire government needs to focus on what they do best, sell passports and enrich themselves. These do-nothing press conferences are becoming more comical with each passing day.

  4. coyote
    August 25, 2016

    And what about all the rubbish,vagrants and paro all over the place?

  5. REAL!!!!
    August 24, 2016

    Mr. Tonge….You really believe you are running an animal farm in BeauBois.

    This is the country tourism product you are trying to get in motion.

    Mr. Tonge please resign as you are not capable!!!!!

    August 24, 2016

    :?: I’ve got questions and more questions :?: What is it that your rogue government is doing to improve air access other than the same location that airlines fail to land,including lie-at :?: Where is the last election hoax promise of a Chinese airport :?: If lie-at is the problem, why was eight million dollars wasted on them :?: Would it not be a good decision by lie-at not to fly or reduce their flight to the island if there’s not passengers :?: Has there not always been air access to the island long before tropical storm Erika :?: Isn’t building a proper airport at a better sight to accommodate bigger, better and more airlines to the island a better idea :?: All this illegal rogues posing as government continues to do is use the same old wineskin to put wine,then complain about the wine being spilled! This is what happens with incompetence!!! :?:

  7. Tj
    August 24, 2016

    Build an airport to accommodate long haul flights. By the way what happen the DA/Ft. Laudedale flight?

  8. August 24, 2016

    DLP, a can’t do government :-D :-D

  9. Favored
    August 24, 2016

    Set of confused people in this Dominican government. One Calypsonian sang the whole cabinet full of fochett; well I will say if a….holes could fly everyone in this cabinet would be pilots.

  10. DomiChina
    August 24, 2016

    Mr. Tonge the vision of the airport is sickening. it looks like a 14th century patchwork of the 12th century.
    please take some pride in the country. Your government is so busy fooling the people of Dominica that they are not even aware that they themselves see the airport as the first structure on entering the country. It is a poor reflection of the country that has so many lovely scenic sites for tourists to ensure. The image of the Canefield Airport is a disgrace for an entry port close to the city. By building a structure can open up job opportunities for people of dominica. You people surprise me really that you travel to other countries and then return to dominica and still sing the same old foolish song.

    • STAR
      August 27, 2016

      thats what im saying.. the airport is the first sight on entry and just look at it.. these people travel so much.. dont they see other airports in the caribbean… i just dont get it

  11. DomiChina
    August 24, 2016

    Mr. Tonge,

    why don’t you address the Canefield Airport issue. Why not ask for bids from the local community for draft designs on how best to reconstruct the Canefield airport so that airlines as large as even JetBlue could land there.
    Look toward the future and open Dominican economy since this airport is in the heart of the country and proximity to the city favorable. Consider people from Grand Bay or Scotts Head landing at Melville Hall and has to travel a distance to arrive at their home after a late flight from Liat.

    Tourism could be beefed up if there were some sort of consideration from the government to source a dedicated airline to travel from St. Martin into Canefield, or Barbados into Canefield or Trinidad into Canefield or Antigua into Canefield. But then again the Canefield airport needs reconstructing. A simple suggestion – build the air strip out to sea and inland and tunnel the road.

    What has happened to this jet service that was promised from Florida to…

    • Anthony P. Isamel
      August 25, 2016

      You would have to destroy the Morne Daniel Community to expand Candefield. That North-South approach creates dangerous cross-winds from the west. I’ve landed there many times back in the day and it is scary, especially during Easter when the Trade Winds take effect.

    • The fact that Cane Field Airport runs North and South, would be foolish for anyone to spend money trying to improve on that, there is nothing to improve, it should not be built in the first place, that was the poorest location one could chose.

      Get familiar with the term “wind-share” which is likely to cause crashes on both landing and takeoff. Jet Blue operates a series of commercial passenger Jet Aircrafts which requires an International Airport to accommodate landing and take off.

      Just incase you are not familiar, what constitute an International Airport is the length and width of the runway, neither Melville Hall, nor Cane Field are suitable to accommodate an International Airport, therefore an International must be built. The UWP during the only less than four years in power, had an International Airport in the first phase of construction, when Rosie Douglas, Athie Marten, Roosevelt, and Charles, Ian Douglas, shut it down they said Edison James was spending too much money…

      • Be informed the International Airport the UWP had in progress was costing just a little over three hundred (300,000,000.00) million dollars; nevertheless, Skerrit spent half of a million dollars; five hundred million dollars, two hundred million dollars more than it would cost to build a new airport, installing landing lights at Melville Hall based on the advise of his slave master, and handler Ralph Gonzalez.

        While Gonzalez ordered him to refurbish Melville Airport, and told him that’s all Dominica needs, Gonzalez was in the process building Argyle International Airport in his country St. Vincent.

        You see how smart, Skerrit and his labor party circus members are?

        You all like his dimples, live, sleep, eat and drink off his dimples!

  12. That guy has to be out of his mind! If we add 1+1 for a thousand years, the answer will be the same ; 1+1=2, the result will always be two. LIAT has been flying to Dominica for approximately sixty (60) years, without any changes, so how on earth can anybody in their right mind expect any variable when the status quo remains the same?

    That guy is blaming LIAT for the failure of the his government incompetents, and stupid belief that in the jet age what is situated at Melville Hall is a national attraction, hence the tourist will flocked to Dominica only to see Douglas-Charles, and Skerrit landing lights!

    The decrease in arrivals are all due to people not prepared to traumatized themselves traveling to a backward place like Dominica; not even Dominicans living in the Diaspora are interested in traveling to Dominica. The lack of an International Airport in the country is your problem boy, and only an idiot would not recognize that!

    • STAR
      August 27, 2016

      i would shake ur big toe.. i dont see how these people dont recognize the real issue.. or maybe they just want to keep the island backwards so that the masses can contrinue to be poor and come to skerrit for rice and sugar and then he can assure himself a vote.. is either that or i just dont know… these men should not be leaders they hav no sight of direction

  13. Anon AGain
    August 24, 2016

    The total number of flights, are they weekly, monthly, yearly? Also, I’m interested in finding out how many of these seats are filled. It’s one thing to have seats coming in, it’s something else altogether to have bottoms on these seats. And, even more importantly, how many are coming in as tourists?

    • Tell the Facts
      August 25, 2016

      Why? Are you planning to fill them? :lol: :lol: :lol:

  14. john paul
    August 24, 2016

    international airport only become a hot topic during election,then forgotten when Skerrit win back.Dominicans please open your eyes.Skerrit and Ralph Gonsalve are he tries everything to please him at the cost of the people of Dominica.he brought in Ralph to tell us that we don\’t need an international airport,and right now he is building one for St.vincent and the Grenadines.and right now the agyle international airport in St.vincent so finish and ready to roll.Skerrit told us that he sign a deal with a private firm from China to come and build the international airport under b.o.o.t. what\’s the word on that now?.is he gone silent?what went wrong?.and Dominicans are so easy to brain wash.Dominicans please open your eyes.

  15. john paul
    August 24, 2016

    my brothers and sisters,the one and only solution for air access is an international airport.

    • Tell the Facts
      August 25, 2016

      Since you are so sure, start building one. :lol: :lol: :lol:

  16. hard cure dca
    August 24, 2016

    if we did keep our 8 million, that could have been a start towards our own airline. please take time out and look at humuch winair generate on that canfield flight hundreds of thousand per month, its time for our national airway and stop beging liat.

  17. tomtom
    August 24, 2016

    DNO, stilling working ? we will always be working to improve DA.

  18. oh Yes
    August 24, 2016

    I’m a bit confused. If you market the island then people will become aware of the island. How else are you going to make them aware? You inform them about the island through various marketing strategies. Every dollar spent on increasing economic activity through tourism should equal to every dollar earned.

  19. FED UP
    August 24, 2016

    How about fixing the scanner in Dominica so that our bags can be checked and locked? My bags arrived unlocked in Barbados – once I had departed Dominica – and half of my items were stolen. I have never been so upset. This is not the tourist experience we want.

    This Minister is useless!

    • STAR
      August 27, 2016

      i know right.. in this day and age bags are still being hand checked.. what a joke

  20. Wheel again
    August 24, 2016

    The usual comments and tactics.

    Yes, we need to improve air access and fill the empty hotel beds to keep folks gainfully employed but we need to put other things in order.

    It is almost a year since the passage of TS Erika and all sorts of excuses and innuendos are still ‘flying’ around.

    Have you driven around the island to observe the deplorable condition of the roads? I am not only referring to pot holes, but also to the slippages that are causing some roads to be much narrower as well as the super tall grass growing along both sides of most rural roads making visibility almost impossible around corners, especially when it rains and the grass forms a canopy.

    We need to make Dominica safe for us first so that when improved air access hopefully resulting in more flights to bring visitors (and Dominicans) in, all will be well.

  21. Not a herd follower
    August 24, 2016

    But Mr. Minister, marketing builds awareness. I don’t understand why you believe raising awareness of the existence of Dominica is so distinct from marketing the island

  22. Lang Mama
    August 24, 2016

    Lang Mama has lived long enough to know thst talk is even cheaper with this government administration. Having Tonge saying the same things that Ian said , Charles Saverin said , Ivor Nasdief said does not change the wine. The same old wine in a plastic bottle.
    Ian Douglas said that Air Venezuela was getting set to run routes to Dominica-more talk.
    We had all kinds of pseudo airline flying from Fort Lauderdale straight to Dominica and supposedly in concert with the government. Lol.
    I swear that Dominicans we live for political connatism. The more rediculous the politicians are is the happier the people.

  23. Whistler
    August 24, 2016

    Good job guys at fooling the highly ignorant ones would eat, breath and sleep with the DLP tricks and deceptive motives…

    but the summary is under the DLP, dominica is proudly headlining the Poorest and Slowest economy in the eastern caribbean..

    sadly the citizens in dominica are bought and fooled easily so the road ahead is gloomy..

  24. weh
    August 24, 2016

    Out of the 89 Liat flights can the minister tell us what percentage of the 7261 seats are filled?

    • Tell the Facts
      August 25, 2016

      Are you planning an excursion? :lol: :lol: :lol:

  25. Simon
    August 24, 2016

    LIAT changing timetables so flights from Dominica no longer meet British Airways and Virgin flights from Antigua to UK is also a factor.

    Fortunately, BA noticed this and did a deal with Winair so people could easily connect with Dominica.

    LIAT is the worst airline I’ve ever flown with, and I’ve flown Scibe Airlift in Central Africa!

    • South City
      August 27, 2016

      You’re a damn liar. LIAT is the only Airline that BA deals with more and change the schedules for. I work at the Antigua Airport. LIAT is more respected by BA than any other airline. BA recognizes that LIAT gives them the connected passengers from St Maarten, Dominica, Tortola, Anguilla, Guyana, St Vincent. Compare that to the little WINAIR gives. WINAIR does be late like LIAT too but you all don’t mention it.

  26. Shameless
    August 24, 2016

    Garson Robbie you smarter than that. What BS you there waypaytaying there nuh? Garson you have become a total waste of time. Since before u born in time of Columbus and Kalinago people know Dca exist. You now have to offer them what you have that make Dca special. Wow! You loosing it …

    ,Always Assertive!

    August 24, 2016

    With all that said what is happening to the taxi drivers who charge 80 dollars from main airport to roseau per person. That needs to change…also the restaurant service in dominica is bad and needs to be looked into.. Its like if ure not local and have ur own pot u have to stay hungry.

    Again again what about the much talked about international airport of which governments have fooled people time and time again to gain votes ?. How about the 3 floor building you spoke about in the ruines (old burnt nassief building area), how about the cruise ship terminal at canefield blackmoore spoke about,, and the list goes on.. Rememeber these words by the people for the people…

  28. derp
    August 24, 2016

    hmm international airport hmmmm

  29. megso
    August 24, 2016

    “He named Dominica as “one of the significant profitable routes for LIAT.””

    Liat may NOT be interested in profitability. Remember Ralph Gonzales – representing a major shareholder of LIAT and at the time the chair of the shareholders-
    saying that He did NOT expect LIAT to make a profit & it should be run like a service.
    So , We got service – terrible service, but that is all LIAT is concerned about.
    Sometimes St.Vincent has even worse service from LIAT,but Ralph is not too concerned because there are many more options available to get in & out of SVG & maybe even more when Argyle International opens.

  30. Temperance Brennan
    August 24, 2016

    8.5 million for marketing…18 million for a bridge. Good luck with that logic and whatever marketing strategy you can come up with for this PITTANCE.

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