Tourism stakeholders want more air access, call for national airline

Tourism stakeholders here have pinpointed air access as their number one constraint and have called on authorities to expeditiously look into the matter.

This issue, among others, was pointed out at a Dominica Hotel and Tourism Association (DHTA) Bi-annual meeting at the Fort Young Hotel on Wednesday evening.

President of the DHTA Simon Walsh was highly supported when he suggested the introduction of a national airline as a possible solution to this issue.

“I have almost come to a point where I believe that that is the way forward for Dominica,” he said. “To develop a national airline and we’re not talking about 747’s or international airports. We’re talking about small planes that will service our hubs of Antigua, Barbados, St Maarten and shuttle people back and forth. Something that we Dominica dictates the time of departure so we can connect with every single other hub.”

He continued, “We think the policy  now should be looking at improving air access; and if that means development of a national airline that will create jobs and create national pride.”

Walsh believes that the air access problem is the number one issue hindering foreign investment and reinvestment in the tourism industry. “Those of us here now, our hotel rooms are not fully booked because of air access,” he pointed out.

Walsh warned that the new fifty-room hotel being constructed by government in Portsmouth will also face the same dilemma if the situation is not remedied.

He urged tourism stakeholders to support the call for air access adding, “The DHTA board will carry this forward. We will always cry the cry for air access. And I know that is the biggest issue for us today and it’s the hardest one for us to solve.”

Chief Executive Officer of the DHTA Colin Piper supported Walsh and assured that air access is a priority for government.

Other concerns raised by tourism stakeholders at the DHTA biennial meeting were lack of customer service at the various contact points, restaurants charging visitors one prize while locals are charged another prize, the tardiness of government workers at tourist sites and site pass unavailability.

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18 Comments

  1. William McLawrence
    March 21, 2011

    Air access is definitely an issue in Dominica. Will a national airline solve the problem? NO!!! What we need is proper air access. Not just night landing. We need an airport capable of handling long haul flights from the markets where our visitors come from, that is, North America and Europe. LIAT will handle the Caribbean market and the L’Express Des Iles the French Departments of Guadeloupe and Martinique.

    How can we expect better Customer Service when we have removed CIVICS from the school’s curriculum. How can expect better Customer Service when we do not have adequate accommodation at the Dominica State College to teach Hospitality Skills. Why don’t we seriously consider a DOMINICA HOST Program that requires every child from day care understand the importance of service and the delivery of service both in the services sector like tourism and productive sector like agriculture. How can we expect better Customer Service when many managers and business owners think that Customer Service is a responsibility of junior staff not not them.

    It’s time we stop the BS and smell the coffee and understand very clearly that unless we put systems in place that will create business opportunities for us, that is jobs for the people, money in their pockets, food on their table, shelter, healthcare, education and the list can go on…then we will not recognize the need for an airport capable of accommodating long haul flights and the need to invest in that area, like Saint Vincent and the Grenadines did, and the need for provision of proper and effective customer service like they do with the BahamaHost program in the Islands of the Bahamas.

    Wake up Dominica, our competitive must translate into hard foreign exchange…otherwise, we will keep being uncompetitive in the tourism scheme of things, y’all!!!

  2. Sensitivey
    March 19, 2011

    This is just hi way of trying to get rid of LIAT and let the Red and Yellow machine take over but I tell you this LIAT will always remain faithfull to the unratefull Dominicans who want to use the as a Restaurant when the flights are delayed. No other Airline wants to fly to Dominica or operate services there, whats the problem.

    Air Caraibes is close by, they operate in St Lucia, why not Dominica, Antilles express is closeby as well, CAL Dash8 WILL NEVER DREAMOF ADDING dOMINICA TO ITS OPERATIONS. Dominicans have created a foolish notion of themselves at other caribbean airports and i will tell you this, every one of your caribbean brothers and sisters are observing your behaviours.

    UNLESS OUR MENTALITY IS CHANGED THEN YOU WILL SEE AIRLINES AND YOU WILL VIEW A BETTER LIAT.

    TAKE YOUR MINDS FROM THE BUSHES AND LEARN TO ACCEPT DISAPPOINTMENTS, IT WILL TRULLY BE YOUR BLESSING.

    • Marie
      November 11, 2014

      Mo you are wrong Sensitivey as Dominicans are fed up of being disrespected when traveling through Antigua. They have no Customer Service skills and talk to people like they are rubbish, and are beneath them, I know because I have travelled through there many times and I am sick off having to sit around for hours on end waiting to go to Dominica or back to London, if not that flights are being messed up, like being cancelled now that is one of the worst things that can happen to a person. Flights should be scheduled on time and leave on time, and no cancellations. and may I point to you not only Dominicans have a problem with this matter. we do need and International airport where one can stay on an air plane and go straight to Dominica none stop with no delays. Thank you

  3. jah
    March 19, 2011

    ya people boycott because there are no direct flights in and out of DA; yes we need an airport to handle at least a passanger 737s, that all we need and you will see the difference, but I guess it is more important to build a state house, yes DA goverment has no vision for the country and how to improve the country.

  4. The truth
    March 19, 2011

    That’s what’s up. We have needed that for many years. People boycott coming to Dca when they know Liat is the airline they have to take. Especially when they get service from he’ll during times like carnival and creole festival.

  5. Whappening?
    March 19, 2011

    Whilst I fully agree that access to Dominica is the biggest problem that the tourist industry faces, it is with great trepidation that I read the idea of a National Airline.

    Dominica cannot afford such extravagances. It cannot also afford an international airport. Even if it could … why would the above problems of transferring at Antigua be averted? The handlers at Antigua would still be working for Antiguan interests and NOT Dominican. Unless we have direct flights to major US and European cities these problems will persist.

    A far simpler and cost effective plan, though not as spectacular, would be to make use of Guadeloupe’s international airport with currently direct flights to Miami, Paris and Montreal. How? To use the existing ferry services and bring back the Cabrits to Guadeloupe route. For the above mentioned 50 room hotel in Portsmouth that would seem a very sensible idea.

    There are a few hurdles to overcome.

    *Firstly, that the ferry arrives in the morning meaning that one still has to overnight in Guadeloupe.
    **Secondly that the time it takes to disembark has become legendary here in Roseau. Sometimes as long as 2 hours.
    ***Thirdly the cost of the passage is too high.

    *Firstly changing or adding new timetable will negate that problem.

    **Secondly using the same willpower to allow fast disembarkation of cruise ship passengers to allow fast disembarkation of ferry passengers.

    ***Thirdly the government has to subsidize the first season to gain interest and also to make sure that new ferry services that meet the international flights are ready and in service at all times. The money spent on subsidies would be negligible to that of an international airport or national airline. It would be made back via taxes on food and drink consumed by the extra arrivals. Tourism will blossom. As will new jobs and investment.

    The French people of Guadeloupe and Martinique love our country and are merely 30 miles or less away. That seems a very good place to start.

  6. looking in
    March 18, 2011

    Dominica realy cannot finance an international airport and keep it running it may become a white elephant. What we need is proper connections from neighbouring islands. If one of these small airlines(Not Liat) can make connections with Jet Blue we wil get home feeling elated. On my way back my connection was in Antigua the custom officers there is more paranoid than in the USA, some goosberry in my carry on the custom officers in Antigua said the cocoye is a weapon they take them. Dont worry gready they greedy.

  7. John
    March 18, 2011

    If Dominicans do not want to start it then let the Chinese do it and after that they will say Chinese taking over. They have the money and refuse to invest in our Nature Isle. This is indeed a very good idea, with careful study and serious Dominicans behind that it can work. To all the people who want an international airport, I support them, I wish we could get one AS A GIFT, but let me ask you all a question, Do you know how much it cost to build and maintain an International Airport? secondly how many International flights we will get and who will pay for the empty airplane sits that are currently paid by the Government of St.Lucia, St.Kitts ETC when these international flights land in their country.

  8. Pedro
    March 18, 2011

    They rejected the International Airport. They lighted candles and made their wodoo to prevent it’s construction. Today they are crying. Bring back the party with the plan.

  9. Weh!!
    March 18, 2011

    NATIONAL AIR WHO???????????????? AIRLINE????? Who’s paying……..
    Boy behave all you self!!

  10. Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
    March 18, 2011

    ” I have almost come to a point where I believe that that is the way forward for Dominica,” he said. “To develop a national airline and we’re not talking about 747’s or international airports. We’re talking about small planes that will service our hubs of Antigua, Barbados” (Walsh)

    That is the stupidest sentiment I’ve read in a long, long time!

    That to me is the most comical, comment of the twenty-first century. Here this man is convinced that the lack of Air Access to Dominica, is an obstacle in the way of a better developed tourist industry in the country, suggesting a National Airline, whilst in the same breath dismissing the idea of the development of an International Airport.

    How dumb can someone be?

    So, you have night landing, you have LIAT; master of the Caribbean Sky’s, and all sort of flying machines, flying in and out of Dominica for more than fifty years, yet it is impossible to board an aircraft internationally and fly into Dominica, yet this man believes the invention of a National Airline will solve Dominica’s Air Transport problems.

    Even yesterday a red and yellow fire fighting Ambulance was introduced; that type of twin engine garbage is fitted with water tanks and used to fight, and out bush fires in the United States, however, it is added to the fleet that will transport us to Martinique, and St. Lucia.

    Walsh you do not make commonsense at all, your sentiments are beneath what we term in Wesley when I was a kid ” Ram-goat advise” wishful, and dumb thinking!

    It is your kind, which keep Dominica stagnant, as if we still exists in the thirteenth, and fourteenth century!

    You have no shame, and should not be in any position in Dominica, where you should be the one to determine what should be dome in order to get a Mule to pull a box cart on two wheals.

    If you lack the commonsense to understand it for yourself, I must inform you, that you Walsh no matter what comes out of your retarded brain , and demented mind, you will never have a viable tourrist industry in Dominica, unless the 747 which you do not want to fly into Dominica start flying directly out of Europe, and North America, first bringing Dominicans home, and in the process the tourrist will follow.

    You will not inherit the benefits of a viable tourist industry as long as Dominica is without an International Airport.

    You people sit in Dominica calling yourselves members of some Tourrist Association, what are you doing to promote Dominica internationally?

    When you speak of tourism week in Dominica, you go on radio, and on Marpin, talk a lot of crap, and hope someone will drop some change in your collection plate, not enough to advertise Dominica, Internationally.

    Even Montserrat, where the Volcano has been erupting for almost ten years now, is advertising on National Television here in the United States; yesterday on the Price is Right, seen nation wide, I saw a guy won a trip to visit Montserrat, and the Hotel where he will stay in Montserrat the pictures of that hotel was splashed all over television, and let me say we have nothing in comparison to what I saw as of yet in Dominica, as what I saw in Montserrat yesterday.

    Bare in mind that Montserrat was almost wipe off the map of the world in recent years!

    Talk as much as you want boy, that silly talk is futile, it will gain you nothing because there is no substance in your comments; you can invent a hundred national airline to fly from Dominica, unless you are going international you will be wasting your time.

    We in Dominica only talk, and nothing constructive results from our talk, we are a nation of talking baloney, however, when the time comes to take some kind of action we crawl under some rock where we either evaporate into thin air, never to be seen again, as our thoughts disappears into oblivion!

    Donde es Dominica’s Internacional Aeropuerto?

    Where is Dominica’s International Airport?

    Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque

  11. Anon
    March 18, 2011

    Did Mr. Walsh give this serious thought before suggesting this? Who will own the airline? Will it be state owned? If it is state owned, how will government maintain it? Running an airline is not cheap. See the number that have come and gone over the past few years. Nearly 40 in the past several years have come and fallen along the wayside.

    Jamaica, a much larger country than Dominica, with a far more vibrant tourism sector, located near the US, got rid of its national airline because it simply could not afford it. Trinidad, which is richer than Dominica struggled with BWIA for years before shutting it down and opening CAL, which is having its problems. Bahamas is struggling with Bahamas Air and is wondering how to rid itsel of the problem. Cayman Islands is wondering the same about Cayman Airways. All of these countries are better off than us.

    A national airline cannot and will not solve our tourism problems or fill our hotel rooms. What will it benefit us if the planes keep arriving regularly and on time, but empty? We must come up with more practical and less expensive solutions to our tourism problems, like improving the product and proper marketing

    • Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque
      March 19, 2011

      Anytime we speak of a national entity, such as an airline, it is usually owned 100% by the government of the country, as such the people of the country owns that entity.

      Francisco Etienne-Dods Telemaque

  12. James H Barton
    March 18, 2011

    Good timing, I was getting ready to do an update on one of the commentaries DNO published for me
    over a year ago, named Fly ‘Dominica Air’. If you really, really, really want to get ‘tourists’ to Dominica, someone whether Red, Blue, Black, Yellow, or Other, must think Green (money). Having
    a Dominican ‘National’ airline is your only hope for the moment, otherwise you are losing out day by
    day. There is no way you can accomplish the sustainability of tourist developement, not counting
    the Diaspora, with the limited air capacity now present, and at the usury costs charged. Caribbean
    Airline (Trinidad) is trying, ask Alan Chastenet of St. Lucia, but the ‘big boys’ are trying to stifle
    that. You ‘can not’, repeat ‘can not’ expect and dream that LIAT and A’A Eagle care about your
    plight, they ‘do not’. Forget about ‘direct’ Jet flights’ from the U.S., it ain’t gonna happen. Forget about the ‘night landing’ never ending discussions, it’s only a diversion, it won’t solve your problems. And please, please stop talking about the ‘International’ Airport as the only solution, it’s not, most of us will not live long enough to fly into it. Your best hope really is to have your own
    airline, and ‘yes’ it can sustain itself, if managed by the bright and educated Dominicans who
    desire a developement chance for their ‘Nature Island’. You have only one realistic option to
    accomplish this, you need more, more, more access for people to be able to come, and the only
    way for this to happen is by having more, more, more flights, and by having your own airline is
    the only way this is ever going to happen.

  13. Wongping
    March 18, 2011

    This has been a handicap longtime.i welcome this initiative with proper groundwork.isn’t it ridiculous to go to martinik from DA, U MUST GO TO LUCIA?Nothing beats a failure but a trial;and custom officials u can try to be less arrogant towards visitors because news travel fast.a smile is also important

  14. Piper
    March 18, 2011

    So after we launch the national airlines, how much is the government prepared to kick in to keep it going? I cannot see any sane businessman putting his money behind such a venture.

    Many have tried, with a wider Caribbean reach and failed. Now they are talking about a Dominica-focused airline?

    Before Walsh can make such a suggestion based on a gut feel, he needs to present a business plan that supports his position. This is not like starting a lemonade stand.

  15. Devoted Dominican.
    March 18, 2011

    MR WALSH,
    I AS A DOMINICAN WHO LIVES OVER SEAS AND TRAVELS TO DOMINICA TWICE A YEAR AS DO MANY OTHER DOMINICANS DO, FULLY SUPPORTS YOUR DECISION OF A NATIONAL AIRLINE. RIGHT NOW WITH LIAT HAVING THE ONLY MANNAPOLY THROUGHOUT THE ISLANDS MANY VISITORS AS MYSELF ARE BEING PRESSURED INTO PAYING VERY EXPENSIVE AIRLINE FARES JUST TO TRAVEL TO DOMINICA. EXAMPLE. A TICKET FROM JFK TO ST JUAN WHICH IS FOUR HOURS IN FLYING DISTANCE ON AMERICAN AIRLINE IS $388.00US. YET A TICKET ON LIAT FROM SAN JUAN TO DOMINICA WHICH IS ONLY ONE AND A HALF HOURS IS $580.00US. THEN YOU HAVE TO STOP IN ANTIGUA WHERE THERE IS NO RESPECT AND COURTESY TO PASSENGERS, WHERE ALL YOU GET FROM THERE IS TO HAVE YOUR LUGGAGES EITHER MISSING, DAMAGE OR STOLEN. OR TRY TO DELAY YOUR FLIGHT SO THAT YOU CAN OVERNIGHT THERE AND HAVING TO PAY EXPENSIVE HOTEL BILL AND DINNER. SO LIAT IS WORKING FOR ANTIGUAN’S NOT FOR THE REST OF THE CARRI BEAN PEOPLE. SO PLEASE GIVE US A NATIONAL AIRLINE AND MAKE US HAPPY AGAIN.

    • Tourist
      March 19, 2011

      I can only agree with everything said in this comment. It would be well worth giving it a try. What other alternative have we got???

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