BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (29 June, 2020) – As Caribbean countries begin to resume tourism activity as part of efforts to rebuild their economies that have been hit hard by COVID-19, one tourism minister has called on regional leaders to take another look at taxes on air travel within the region.
Grenada’s Dr. Clarice Modeste-Curwen, a passionate proponent of intra-regional travel, said the Caribbean market must be seen as critical to the rebuilding process.
In this context, Dr.Modeste-Curwen said, there was need for a review of the taxes on intra-Caribbean travel and how these taxes impact the desire for travel among the people of the region.
“I feel very passionate about intra-regional travel,” the minister said during the first in a series of Facebook Live question and answer sessions organised by the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO). The series, dubbed, Plain Speaking, provides CTO member countries with a platform to update the media and the general public on the reopening of their borders,
“It has been said by a number of individuals who are more familiar with the airline industry than I am, that the taxes that are charged on tickets in the region . . . kill the desire to have more inter-Caribbean travel, because the cost of a ticket to go to a nearby island sometimes is almost the same or more than going further afield like the US or otherwise, or you just have to add a little more. I think as a Caribbean region, we’ve done a lot of wonderful things together and it’s one of the things that we must keep on the table, enhancing, improving intra-Caribbean travel, and it’s one of the things maybe we as ministers should put a stronger case to our prime ministers to see what can happen,” she said.
The Grenadian minister said the Caribbean had done an “exceedingly great job” in containing the virus, enhancing its appeal as a target market for sister islands.
“And so, even though we court visitors from the global community I think we still have to look at intra-Caribbean travel. The Caribbean has been a significant source market for us, especially in certain seasonal activities like Carnival and we welcome that,” she said, while adding that the region would be included in the country’s reopening protocols.
Dr. Modeste-Curwen revealed that St. George’s had been in talks with regional carriers and other aviation entities in a bid to increase the number of seats from the Caribbean to Grenada.
“I hope soon all of us in the Caribbean can avail ourselves to those opportunities to share our beauty with our people,” she stressed.
The first minister to appear on the Plain Speaking series was Antigua and Barbuda’s Charles Fernandez, who addressed such topics as airport protocols and health and safety measures and gave a progress report on the reopening in the wake of the resumption of air service on 4 June.
He revealed that 26 per cent of room nights in Antigua and Barbuda were open, with another 10 per cent opening in July-August. An additional 32 per cent will reopen by October and the final 32 per cent will follow soon after, he said.
The Plain Speaking series continues tomorrow (Tuesday, 20 June) with Jamaica’s tourism minister, Edmund “Ed” Bartlett and Glen Beache, the chief executive officer of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Tourism Authority, providing updates. To follow tomorrow’s session, please visit www.facebook.com/CaribbeanTourismOrganization.