Tourism partners have come a long way, air access remains a problem – DHTA head


President of the Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA), Simon Walsh believes that the current state of the relationship between the some of the country’s top tourism partners have come a long way and is necessary to improve Dominica’s tourism product.

Walsh spoke to this at the 2011 Tourism Awards, held at the Fort Young Hotel, yesterday.

He said, “I think we’ve come a long, long way, because now the cooperation that we have between the private sector, the Ministry of Tourism, the Discover Dominica Authority and the Invest Dominica Authority is a lot stronger, a lot better off and I think the Tourism Awareness Month, that we’ve just concluded, is an excellent indication of how much we much we’re all working together.”

Walsh added that there are numerous challenges facing the sector including air access and uniformed certification. He believes that these challenges are directly link to the inability of some hoteliers to upgrade their services.

“We’re having these healthy discussions and we’re sitting down and having meetings. It is essential that we all work together and try and overcome these issues. The air access issue is something that everybody has been talking about for a long time and more attention is being paid to that now, because it’s understood that those who’ve invested in hotels and guest houses are really being constrained in their ability to improve themselves and meet standard because of restricted access to finances, a lot of that coming about because of our air access situation,” Walsh affirmed.

The DHTA President also urged all in the sector to strive for excellence in service across the board.

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  1. Herve Nizard
    June 2, 2011

    Operating an airline serving Dominica – WITH THE APPROPRIATE SCHEDULE – means supporting a loss. Whatever way you wish to look at it, this is a fact.
    This is why all the airlines who started a service ended by stopping it. Why would they support a loss as a private entity to serve a foreign country ?
    American Eagle flight is slightly different as they operate only one flight a day, and are getting a huge filling factor using their sister company – American Airlines – to fill the first leg from a large number of US airports to San Juan. Their 40 to 70 seats a day are not difficult to fullfill.

    What the market in Dominica requires is a decent fare from the major hubs to Dominica , and mainly the appropriate schedule to avoid overnighting inbound and outbound.

    So solving the air access problem in Dominica means having the proper schedule , which means being able to catch a late afternoon flight from the major hubs, and have a morning flight from Dominica to these same hubs.

    There are only 3 solutions :
    1 / Either have foreign carriers based in these hubs make 2 flights a day to Dominica : One in the morning (outbound) and one late afternoon (inbound) . But this would mean that the outbound evening flight and the inbound morning flights would be nearly empty , increasing again the loss. None of the existing airlines will do it.

    2/ Have a foreign carrier based in these hubs fly a late afternoon flight to Melville, overnight the aircraft and crew in Dominica, and then fly out in the morning. This is what Winair was doing. It is technically a good option but the overnighting cost is increasing the necessary airfare and the market does not seem to support these rates. Airlines like to have their aircrafts back to their base at night for preventive and routine maintenance . It could however be the most cost effective option.

    3/ Have a locally based airline flying in the morning to the hubs in order to bring the outbound passengers, staying there waiting for the incoming international flights and then flying back to Dominica with the inbound passengers. This works perfectly but requires a locally based airline accepting to fly less than normal due to the waiting time at the hub.
    In addition of solving the air access problem, this option would be a very effective marketing tool by flying the Dominican flag on the aircraft’s tails throughout the region, and would be a nice social tool allowing a generation of Dominicans to embrace an aviation career at home.

    Moreover, in order to expect a decent filling factor, Dominican hotels and travellers must favour one, two or three hubs but not 7 as now . Otherwise all travellers to and from Dominica are split in 7 hubs meaning that most of the connecting flights are half full – or half empty !

    The solution is simple . Locally based airline, privately owned and managed by local investors, hotel owners and subsidized by Government to break even. The subsidy cost is marginal at the scale of a country.

    Again, an airline for Dominica is to be considered as an infrastructure; Not a profit center. It is a highway to the neighbouring islands, and a highway does not give any return on investment; It is a necessary and required infrastructure for the development of the country.

    Building a so called international airport will not solve the air access, and will be far most costy to the country.

  2. Mr Love
    June 2, 2011

    The taxes are so high that LIAT and CAL cannot afford to fly here more often that they already are. If there was more revenue to be made they would already be flying here more often. This government must stop thinking short term and let those taxes lower and we will see more flights. With today’s way of thinking if we had an international airport the government would tax it to death anyway. No airlines would afford to fly here. We must start to think long term.

    As for our own airline … why? What difference would that make? It would be private not public … in other words it’s schedules and fares would be exactly the same as now … what would only change is the flag. If Nassief or Astafan own it … would they run it for the benefit of the country? No. They run a business to make money … what would result is a lot of Dominican money (investment to get it all off the ground) wasted.

    As for advertising in major US cities. It is impossible to get here right now or very expensive. Even if DA was well known they could not afford to come. Firstly plan long term and then lower taxes and then build the airport and then advertise.

    Lower taxes.

  3. raptor fan
    June 1, 2011

    airport leaks very very bad

  4. john bess
    June 1, 2011

    WHERE IS U.W.P,the only true political party that was going to build an international airport but no those bad minded labour party supporters said that it was corruption,give me a break,corruption under their bed now.Hehehehehe,skerro have them soft,night landing coming,all you need to remember the plane that crash from anguilla when it tried to come in a little late into melville hall.

    • linky
      June 2, 2011

      the truth will set u free, i agree withu 100%

  5. solution to our problem
    June 1, 2011

    I was very embarrassed when some friends at university asked me where is Dominica. We need to do more, take a financial risk and spend those $$$$$ and invest in those magazines, those sites, leave brochures at the major airports, sponsor or part sponsor a day time soap or game, ( do some research and find out what is most watch), like one guy said, the Jeopardy show . I listen to Tempo and RE all the time and Dominica is hardly featured. Find a reason and invite the guys over, they are in the media and can play a major role.
    The local media can’t help, and who listen anyway? Try something new; if it means new staff then so be it because something has to be done. Give persons reasons to come to us instead of going to the competition 20-30 mins from our shores where the crime rate is so high. Once there’s the reason to come, airport will without a doubt be a must, but before that, what’s the point if it won’t sustain itself?

  6. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    June 1, 2011

    ” Tourism Awareness Month, that we’ve just concluded, is an excellent indication of how much we much we’re all working together.”

    May I ask working together to do what, or accomplish what?

    You people sit in Dominica, on your pedestals, seeking recognition from your local niche, and every once in a while, or each year saturates the local airwaves, via Radio, and Television making a lot of useless noise talking about tourism week.

    What purpose do these talks serve, when your voices via Radio, are heard only in the Caribbean, and your programme on Television is limitedly heard in Dominica alone?

    What happen to advertising in the major cities of the world, like the rest of the Caribbean?

    I reside in the City of Los Angeles; I see commercials on prime time Television, where some commercial will feature some island in the Caribbean; in that region between Jamaica, in the North to Guyana in the South, the most recent one I saw was a price given away to someone to visit St. Kitts.

    That came off on the game Show, Jeopardy, which is a Show, that is seen nation wide and in Canada, at least once per day, three hundred sixty-five days per year.

    Can one imagine the millions of people who become aware of the tourist destination on the islands which their tourrist originations advertise therir country?

    I have never once saw Dominica in name appear on anything anywhere in the world where I have traveled, and I assure you Walsh that ” I’ve been there, and done that.”

    They say that Jungle Bay guess house, or hotel, has a Bill-board some place in the City of Toronto, I have yet to see it, someone called me out on that, however, when I ask them to give me the location where this sign is posted, I have yet to hear from them.

    Again if this advisement board is in the city of Toronto, I will be in Toronto as the fifteenth (15th) of July, anyone who knows the location where Jungle Bay commercial hangs, please have me informed so that I can go to see it with my own eyes.

    When talking about air access, let us not pussy-foot ( talking about a cat now) about it, call a spade a spade, be a man, a responsible man in a position: Come all out and state it categorically that our passenger air access into and out of Dominica, will only be resolved when we build an International Airport!

    You can talk tourism week as much as you want for the rest of your natural life, that will not bring any significant change to the tourist industry, since your efforts, and your talk is limited to Dominica, and some of the Caribbean islands only.

    Now if your focus is on natives of other Caribbean islands visiting Dominica as tourist, I say more power to you, and good lock with your useless effort.

    However, if you want an influx of the international tourist into Dominica, Black, and white, your alternative is the construction of an International Airport; without that you and Dominica will continue to get the crumb of what falls off the tourism table.

    Without an International Airport on the Island, you have already lost the battle, and the war, fighting for your share, and equal opportunity of benefiting from the tourism industry.

    Perhaps it would be of interest to pass this bit of information to both Ian Douglas, and his subordinate Piper!

    Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque

    • power
      June 1, 2011

      I hope you do not mind the old name .I agree with you on every point you made and let me add one more about D A and tourism and crime .Last year a member of my family was told by one of his coworkers that he was going on a carribbean cruise so he said ”my parents are from dominica so maybe you could ask for a cruise that includes Dominica .He did try to do just that and was told by the agency that they do not go to Dominica because while all the islands have crime including Dominica that island does not have any tourist attractions this made my family member very mad. In march of this year we were down there and i took them to Jungle Bay where they bought some stuff , to the emerald pool I have my own opinion about this as a tourist sight I am sure all the years you lived at wesley you never heard a gun shot at four in the morning well there were two shots fired not too far from my house his response was I thought this place was safe what made it real bad while the police station is not too far away there was no response

      • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
        June 2, 2011

        Indeed times have changed since illicit drugs and money has taken precedence of everything else in our country, including our village of Wesley.

        If you remember my older sister Marie, well, her last son fell victim to a murderer, my nephew was found murdered with his throat slashed. Someone confessed to the police that he was the one who committed the murdered, the police rejected his confession, claiming that he was in competent, and they do not believe him.

        What do you know he too I believe less than a month later he was also found murdered with his throat slashed. So, hearing gun fire in the village, is a picnic to plenty of what is going on in Wesley.

        I remember the last time I visited, a cousin and I went to Londonderry River, for bath at that place I am sure you are familiar with: we call that basin of water Dam, on returning to the village walking on the old campus of St. Andrews High School, my cousin said to me, boy, I have seen lots of gunfight here!

        I was dumbfounded, so I ask him what does he mean, he told me, ” man I mean gunfight, where bullets fly past my head, I here the sound of the bullets when they fly past my head.” Only then it dawned on me that the Wesley where I was born no longer exists.

        Now shocking as it is to hear that Dominica has no attraction, that might be a wake-up call for people such as Walsh, Piper, and Douglas, and who else are involved in our tourism affairs, because the notion is if they continue to talk about Nature Island, that alone will bring visiting tourist into the country.

        However, where are our tourrist resorts, where are the simple necessities, facilities such as bathrooms ( the rest areas as we know them) in the United States, Canada, and Europe?

        You pick up passengers form the airport, heading into any direction in the country, and nature calls, some need to defecate, or simply excrete, what do you say to your passenger, wait till we find some thick bushes, for you to go to relieve yourself?

        You see, such facilities are need because, people are not interested in any primitive form of lifestyle, that’s not what they leave the comfort of their homes and country to experience, when we are talking nature Island we are actually presenting our island as a stone age primitive island.

        This may the part of the reason the travel agency gave you the crap they gave you.

        Do not hesitate to call me son, that’s what I’ve been called all of my live growing up, if you go into Wesley right now, and ask anyone if they know Francisco, I doubt three people may recognize me by that name, however, if you say ask about son fu ma John, all hell may break loose.

        I prefer to be called son anyway, When I went to live in Antigua, at age 14, those Antiguan family of mine change it from son to Sonny.

        I recognize you are from Wesley, but unable to detect your identity, so if you wish to talk with me, you can reach me via one of these numbers: 323-730-8530, 951-310-2895, or 323-731-7436, if I you do not get me through any of those that means I am on the road, so call me on my OnStar number which is 323-533-0478, or better yet, E-mail me: [email protected] or [email protected]

        Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque

  7. ddd
    June 1, 2011

    Mr Walsh i believe once a product is good people will do what ever it take to find it. So face the reality of the product that we are offering instead of blaming it on air Access.
    We need to do more, remember there are other countries in the region (Jamaica Grenada) offering eco tourism along with other year round activities. so let’s come up with some new ideas , like nautical and sailing activities, nightlife, food fest, music fest, sporting activities, something that can sell. Something that will deter Dominicans from taking those fancy overseas vacations but rather invite their overseas friends to a Dominican vacation. You guys travel all the while, so I’m sure you know what I talking about…lets work on that and I can guarantee you if persons have to swim or use parashoots to get to our shore, they will.

    If you appreciate honesty, Dominica doesn’t have much to offer; I have been around the region and I’m telling you, we’ve got the potential here! Right within the windward islands…just look at those islands? How do they have that we don’t? I’ll this for you to answer …..Pleasant day!

  8. Anthony P. Ismael
    June 1, 2011

    Build the airport. This is a time when a bold decision is required. We can dance around this issue all night long, but we will not be able to bring home the bacon until an airline carrying 200 people or more, can safely land and take off from Dominica.

  9. dominican
    June 1, 2011

    we just need our own airline and from there we will see improvement…….. there are alot of young dominican men and women who are studying in the aviation community right now.. it would be a good thing after there 4 years of aeronotical training to come back to their country to recieve an open job in flying for their country’s airline company

  10. lance
    June 1, 2011

    Air Access will continue to be a problem if Caribbean Goverments subsidise seats on LIAT and Caribbean Airlines which is our own to encourage regional travel throughout the Region. We continue to subsidize US and UK Carriers which brought less and continues to bring less to the region.

    Secondly, all Caribbean Governments need to come into the affairs of both of our Airlines, Three or four countries cannot do it alone, Dominica need to invest and become a Share Holder of these two Airlines. TALK IS CHEAP COMING FROM OUR PEOPLE. Invest in CAL, Invest in LIAT and you’ll get the service you desire to move mountains to your country. If we dont invest and become shareholders, how will we be able to reap profits?

    Our Governments also need to reduce taxes for Air Travel in the region then our markets will become competitive, I’ve seen the base fares for LIAT and CAL very cheap and when all countries add taxes its too much too handle.


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