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.