Calls for a unified intra-regional travel approach

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Dominica’s Trade Minister Ian Douglas
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By Shermain Bique-Charles

[email protected]

“Swim together, or sink, one by one,” was the admonition from a minister in the Roosevelt Skerrit government in Dominica, who called on regional leaders, including those in Antigua and Barbuda, to work with haste to deal with the issues affecting intra-regional travel.

Ian Douglas, Dominica’s Trade Minister made those remarks during a just-concluded OECS tourism ministers meeting at which Antigua and Barbuda was present.

He said that a unified approach is necessary to achieving greater success for all regional countries.

“Policymakers in the region will need to consider a combination of initiatives to stimulate intra-regional travel, while continuing to focus on improving perceptions of safety and security in our destinations,” Douglas said.

Furthermore, he said a unified approach is necessary if regions are to add value to tourism offerings, and achieve greater success than that which is possible individually,” he added.

Whatever decision is taken, Douglas believes it must also reduce the cost of travel throughout the region

“We would need to devise strategies to reduce travel costs to member states, and create the framework which encourages the private sector to invest and do business with confidence.

To sum it up, Douglas, who served as tourism minister for several years, said that without proper regional transportation, food security could be severely affected

“This has hindered the growth of trade and agriculture and this matter is on the front burner of issues for our leaders across the region…Something must be done about it,” Douglas stressed.

Intra-regional travel accounted for 20% of inbound arrivals to the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union between 2017-2019, but as the Covid-19 pandemic took its toll on the industry, there was a 97% decline between April-December in 2020.

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